Thursday, May 3, 2007
Patriots advance to round two
Marshall Academy came through in the clutch, not just once but twice, in round one of the Class AA state baseball playoffs.
The Patriots swept Central Hinds Academy in the best two-of-three series, thanks in large part to their seventh-inning performances.
“I felt in both games our guys would come through,” said head coach Jimmy Hicks. “I have a lot of confidence in this group. They get the job done.
“They’re getting a taste of success and learning how to win. Believing you’re going to win is very important going into the seventh.”
The Patriots improved to 27-3 on the season. Next up is a state quarter-final series versus Winston Academy. Game one was Monday in Holly Springs. Game two is set for Wednesday (May 2) at Louisville. Game three (if needed) will be played Thursday (May 3) at MA.
Game one vs. Central Hinds
Tyler Childers produced the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh as the Patriots knocked off the Cougars in a 2-1 nail-biter Tuesday, April 24, at home.
Caleb Byrd led off the inning with a single and later stole both second and third. He scored the decisive run on Childers’ hit.
“It was exciting,” Coach Hicks said. “That’s the way the playoffs work. We had some young guys who had to step up, and I’m proud of them.”
The game reached the bottom of the seventh still tied at 1, thanks to the relief work of Seth Milliorn in the top of the inning. With no outs and Cougars on second and third, Milliorn struck out the first two he faced and the third one was retired on a ground ball to Byrd at second.
“Wow,” Hicks said. “Seth (Milliorn) turned it on. It was a dramatic game.”
MA took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on Milliorn’s double, which scored Childers.
Central Hinds tied the pressure-packed contest in the fifth on a solo home run.
“We missed several opportunities to score,” Hicks said, “and we dodged some bullets, too. They had opportunities.”
The Patriots had eight hits – two from Milliorn, two from Childers and one each from Bo Bonds, Justin Gray, Chase Samples and Byrd.
“Their pitcher was hard to hit - that submarine style,” Coach Hicks said. “Most of our guys had never faced someone like that.”
Will Patton started on the mound for Marshall and worked into the seventh. He gave up five hits and struck out four. He worked out of a jam, with runners on first and third, in the top of the sixth.
“Will had an outstanding game,” Hicks said. “He worked our game plan to the ‘T.’ ”
Game two vs. Central Hinds
A six-run seventh inning iced the win and the series sweep Thursday at Bolton. Marshall had a slim 4-3 lead going into the top of the seventh and left Hinds County with the 10-3 victory.
Samples led off the inning with a walk. Stevie Brigance moved him to second with a perfect sacrifice bunt, and Jake Howell then came on to run for Samples.
Childers singled to center, putting runners at second and third with one out. Central Heights chose to issue an intentional walk to Hunter Bolden, who already had a solo home run and solid single in the game.
Milliorn drilled a base hit to score Howell and Childers and up the lead to 6-3.
Later with two outs and Bolden and Milliorn on bags, Bonds singled to right. The Cougars threw the ball away once it was back in the infield. Three runs scored on the one hit ball. It was 9-3.
MA’s final run crossed when Brigance earned a bases-loaded walk to score Byrd.
“The guys on this team understand their roles,” Coach Hicks said. “I like our team. They’re jelling together. They have a good time playing the game.”
Milliorn again added to that “good time” with his strong relief pitching. He shifted to the mound from shortstop with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Nic Bethany had just hit his second home run of the game for Central Hinds to trim the Marshall lead to 4-3.
Milliorn struck out the lone man he faced in the fifth..
In the sixth, one Cougar reached with one out. The next batter hit a grounder to Jake Omedeo at third. MA tried to turn a double play but the runner going to second did not slide, obstructing second baseman Byrd. He and the batter were called out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Milliorn gave up one hit but got all three outs on ground balls.
Milliorn also paced the 11-hit Patriot attack with a double and a single and three RBIs. Childers had a double and a single, Bolden a home run to lead off the third and a single, Bonds two singles, Samples two singles and Sanders a two-run homer in the top of the first.
The Cougars had eight hits – six off starter Shane Campbell and two off Milliorn.
“Shane (Campbell) did exactly what we wanted him to do,” Hicks said. “I told him I wanted four or five innings out of him, and everything after that was a bonus. He competed. The pressure didn’t phase him in a big situation.”
The defense behind Campbell and Milliorn was superb. The Patriots committed no errors.
“It was the best defensive game we’ve played all year,” Hicks said. “When Seth (Milliorn) took the mound, we had freshmen at third, shortstop and second, and all three made plays.”
Next up, in round two, for Marshall is the Winston Academy Patriots, who swept Manchester Academy in round one by scores of 12-2 and 13-11.
“They’re a good hitting team,” Coach Hicks said. “It’s the playoffs - every opponent is tough.
“We want to keep being aggressive, and do what we’ve been successful doing all year.”
The Marshall-Winston survivor will go to the state semi-finals next week and face either Simpson Academy or Carroll Academy.
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