Mendenhall defeats Lawrence County in Spring Break Classic
MONTICELLO – Mother Nature was the biggest winner in day three of the Southwest Mississippi Spring Break Baseball Classic, at Lawrence County High School. After having all four Tuesday games scratched by rainy weather, Wednesday wasn’t much better, as only one of three games was played. In that game, the Mendenhall Tigers rallied for 4 late runs to claim a 4-2 win over the host Lawrence County Cougars.
“We’ve had a tough couple of days weather-wise,” said first-year Lawrence County coach Josh Garrett. “We’ve pulled the tarp many-a-time, and the field was still awfully wet today. The forecast doesn’t look very promising for the next couple of days, but we’ll give it our best shot.”
A full slate of five games is set for Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. This is the fifth straight season that Lawrence County has hosted such an event. At the close of play Wednesday, only six of twelve scheduled games had been played.
In Wednesday’s game, Lawrence County grabbed a 2-0 lead with 2 runs in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Prentiss Anderson led off the frame with a single, and first baseman Kody Smith finished the inning off with an RBI hit.
Meanwhile, LCHS left-hander Josh Stephens was breezing through the first 4 innings. He shut the Tigers out on 2 hits, while striking out 5. In the top of the fifth, however, Stephens ran into trouble. Three straight Mendenhall hits, followed by an infield error, led to 3 Tiger runs. The biggest blow was an RBI double by third baseman Levi Caldwell. Smith relieved Stephens to get the final two outs of the inning.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the wet field conditions likely cost the Cougars the tying run. With Marcus Atterberry on second base and one out, LCHS catcher Logan Greenlee hit a booming double to the left field wall. As Atterberry made a wide turn around third base, he got slightly into the area of the field that was not covered by the tarp. Atterberry went down in a muddy mess. Instead of scoring the tying run, he was barely able to scramble back to third base.
After that mishap, Mendenhall reliever Jeremy McMillon was able to escape the inning with a strikeout and an inning-inning grounder. Jordan Jenkins worked 5-plus innings for the Tigers, striking out 1. McMillon got the final 6 outs, surrendering only the Greenlee double. Mendenhall pushed across an insurance run in the top of the seventh, and Lawrence County went quietly in the bottom of the inning.
The loss was the second straight for Garrett’s Cougars, after beginning the season 3-0. The LCHS pitching staff has limited the opposition to just 11 runs in 5 games, but runs have been at a premium for the Lawrence County offense.
“You don’t often win when your error total is greater than you hit total,” Garrett said. “Our guys played hard. We just aren’t getting many clutch hits right now-aren’t getting many hits at all. Hopefully, we’ll start to swing it a little better.”
Jenkins, Caldwell, and Brandon Bowen each had 2 hits for Mendenhall. McMillon and Jay Perkins each got 1 hit.
Anderson, Greenlee, Smith, and Seth Bass each had a hit for Lawrence County. The Cougars were also limited to 4 hits in a 3-0 loss to Franklin County on Saturday.
“Our level of play has been pretty much the same in the two losses as it was in the early wins,” said long-time LCHS assistant Craig Davis. “The guys are playing hard. This team just has a very small margin for error. We’re not going to overpower anyone. Our ticket to success is to pitch and defend, and get clutch hits, to win tight games. We haven’t quite gotten it done the last couple of days.”
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