Thursday, May 4, 2005

Indians scalp rival Wildcats
 • Byhalia advances to third round of state playoffs

By CLAUDE VINSON
Sports Editor and

BARRY BURLESON
Editor

The Byhalia Indians continue to add pages to the history book.

They weren’t satisfied with just advancing to the second round of the state baseball playoffs for the first time in school history. They swept Independence two games to none last weekend in round two, and this Saturday the on-the-warpath Indians open the North State finals against Senatobia.

“We have practiced and played for this opportunity all season,” said head coach Bubba Brown. “This team has totally responded.

“We still haven’t cleared all the hurdles, but we feel that we are on the way.”

All nine Byhalia starters had hits, and pitching ace Corey Parker had another strong performance from the mound as the Indians scalped the Wildcats 12-2 in game one of the series Friday afternoon at home.

“It was one of our most consistent hitting games of the year,” Brown said. “The bats really picked up for us.”

Parker went the distance, striking out nine and walking only two.

“He was on,” Brown said. “He had multiple pitches working, and he was hitting his locations very good.”

The senior hurler credited his teammates.

“I felt relaxed,” he said. “The infield and outfield really did their jobs.”

Parker and first baseman Justin Rose provided the biggest blows from the batter’s box. Both hit round-trippers, the first in the playoffs.

When asked about the home runs, both answered in unison, “Great!”

Rose’s two-run homer came in the third inning. He also added a double in the game. Parker aided his own cause with a two-run homer in the sixth. He also had a single in the big win.

Leadoff man Dee Moore produced three hits, two doubles and a single.

Other leaders on offense included Montrell Hardaway with a triple and single, Courtney Hardaway and Corey Deberry each with a double and single, Tyson McAlexander and Brandon Byers each with two singles and Jeremy Lucas with a single.

The Wildcats’ starting pitcher, Craig Dean, lasted until the sixth inning before the coaches relieved him. That’s when the floodgates opened, and the Indians scored five runs to win by the 10-run rule.

The second game of the series Saturday at neighboring Independence was a bit more dramatic. Rose blasted a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to lift the Indians to the 13-10 series-clinching victory.

“It’s a big rivalry,” Brown said. “It was good to win the series Saturday at their place.”

“Pitching, hitting – everything came together for us. Saturday, our defense was a little shaky. I think it was a case of nerves, but we settled down and came through.”

C. Hardaway earned the complete game win from the hill. He struck out nine and walked four.

He also put the Indians on top early with a two-run homer in the first inning. Hardaway and Rose had a single each in addition to their round-trippers.

Other top Indians from the batter’s box were Deberry with a triple and a double, Lucas with a double and a single, McAlexander with two singles, Parker with a double, Moore with a single and M. Hardaway with a single.

“We stayed hot with the bats on Saturday,” Brown said.

Each time the Indians take the field from here on out, they will be slicing off an other piece of history.

“We can live with that,” Coach Brown said.

Byhalia (18-8) hosts Senatobia (19-8) Saturday at 1 p.m. to open the third round of the playoffs. Game two will be Monday at Senatobia. If a third game is necessary, it will be Thursday, May 12, back in Byhalia, at 4 p.m.

“We’re all pumped up and ready to go,” Brown said. “We have outstanding players, and they’re producing. They work hard, and they’re very disciplined. Our minds are on business right now. They’re ready to take the next step; I can see it in their eyes.”

Senatobia swept Nettleton to reach the North Half finals.

“Every team is a big challenge this time of year,” Brown said.

In the South Half finals, Purvis awaited the Greene County-West Lauderdale County survivor as of Monday of this week.

The 2005 state championship matchups in all classifications will be played at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson. The first game of the Class 3A best-of-three series will be Saturday, May 14, at 12 noon. Game two will follow Tuesday, May 17, at 1 p.m. Dates and times of a third game, if needed, are tentative.


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