Thursday, April 28, 2005

A first for Byhalia baseball
  • Indians move to round two of playoffs

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

The Byhalia Indians are exploring new territory.

Coach Bubba Brown’s baseball team went undefeated in the opening, four-team tournament of the Class 3A state playoffs and moves on to second round for the first time in school history.

“This feels great,” said senior Corey Deberry as he celebrated with teammates after the Saturday clincher over Corinth. “We’ve worked so hard. This is the first time we’ve ever made it out of the first round. It’s something I’ve been waiting for all my life.”

Deberry was red hot with the bat. He got out just once in the three games at the Caledonia tourney, going nine of 10 from the plate.

“I just relaxed and hit,” he said. “It came natural. I could not have done it without my teammates. It was a team thing.”

The Indians (15-8) will face Independence (12-11) next in a best-of-three series. It begins Friday, April 29, at 4 p.m. in Byhalia.

“It feels good to have this opportunity,” Coach Brown said. “We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us. ”

The Indians never trailed against Corinth in the finals and tucked the 8-2 victory away with a four-run sixth inning.

“We got hits when we needed them; that’s for sure,” Brown said.

Jeremy Lucas produced three singles. Getting two hits each were Deberry (two doubles), Corey Parker (double and single) and Tyson McAlexander (two singles). Justin Rose added a double and Courtney Hardaway a single.

Byhalia’s defense was solid, too, including some spectacular catches from third baseman Deberry and first baseman Rose on line drives from the bats of Corinth.

“Defense-wise, it was one of the best efforts I’ve seen,” Brown said. “There were so many good defensive plays, if you don’t think hard, you might miss one.

“And I thought our base running was excellent, too. We stole quite a few bases.”

One defensive play in the fifth inning was huge. Byhalia nailed what would have been the tying run at home plate on a relay from center fielder Parker to shortstop C. Hardaway to catcher Montrell Hardaway. The Indians still led 3-2 and then scored one run in the bottom of the fifth and four in the sixth.

“That play broke their hearts, I think,” Coach Brown said.

Dean Miller, a freshman left-hander, was the winning pitcher. He struck out two.

Parker, a senior, shut down the Warriors in the last two innings and earned the save. He faced six batters and struck out four.

“I was just doing my job,” Parker said. “I came in and did what I had to do. My focus was on pitching strikes, and I relied on my team to back me up.”

The Indians rode the right arm of Parker to a 3-2 victory over Winona Thursday in their first game of the opening round tournament.

Parker faced 37 batters in eight innings and struck out 18 to earn the win.

“It was a pitcher’s duel,” Brown said. “They had a good pitcher, too.”

Deberry was a four-of-four from the batter’s box, including the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth. He had two doubles and two singles.

C. Hardaway added a double and Brandon Byers a single.

Byhalia then knocked off Corinth 4-3 on Friday to put itself in the driver’s seat, remaining unbeaten in the double-elimination tourney.

C. Hardaway was the winning pitcher. He struck out three.

“It was a defensive game,” Coach Brown said. “We played good defense, and that was a big key in the win.”

Deberry again carried the hot bat. He had a double and two singles. Dee Moore connected for a double, and Rose had a single.

“The teams were evenly matched in the tournament,” Brown said. “It was a team effort on our part. All of the boys stepped up big.”

The second round playoff series will swing to Independence on Saturday. If a third game is needed, it will be played Thursday, May 5, at Byhalia.

The winner will advance to the North Half finals against the Nettleton-Senatobia survivor.

The second round of the state baseball playoffs in the South Half pits Greene County against West Lauderdale and Purvis against Morton.


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