Thursday, March 26, 2009
Junior high Patriots win conference championship
The Marshall Academy junior high baseball team won first place in the Tri Lakes Conference Tournament Friday at Oxford High School.
The Patriots came away as champions in the league’s inaugural season after entering the tournament as the number three seed. Victories over Water Valley and Oxford set up the championship against South Panola.
Chesley Hurdle started on the mound and went the first three, allowing a pair of runs in the first. Clay Casey relieved and pitched the final two innings and held the Devils scoreless.
A three-run double in the third inning by John Wesley Ray broke open a close game and gave the Patriots a 6-2 advantage.
Dustin Allen pitched the first four innings. Ray relieved in the fifth with runners on first and second and the Pats holding an 8-5 advantage. A strikeout and two fly balls sealed the win.
Matt Rappa had a couple of key hits that drove in runs against the Chargers.
Ray started and went the first two innings allowing no runs and striking out three. Aaron McAlexander relieved and went the final three. He struck out six.
Tied at one in the third, Vince Hoyt came up with a big hit to break the deadlock. In the fourth, the Patriots loaded the bases. Then McAlexander was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run, and Ray delivered a single that plated another. The fifth run scored on a wild pitch.
The championship was a total team effort, according to coach Johnny Ray. He said everybody contributed in some kind of way throughout the day.
“We were the only team to have to play three games, but pitching depth was never an issue,” he said. “We have several kids who are going to be fantastic high school pitchers.
“I’m so proud of this group. They are going to be tough to beat as they get to high school. All the pieces are there for several years of success. They have no quit in them and they expect to win every time they play.
“The fact that we were playing these much larger schools never bothered our kids. They just love to compete. The size of one grade at South Panola and Oxford are larger than our entire school. It’s kind of like we are the Hoosiers of North Mississippi baseball.”
Team members who competed in the tournament were – eighth graders Dustin Allen, Aaron McAlexander, Vince Hoyt, Matt Rappa, Hunter Vanderburg and Chase Smith; seventh graders Chesley Hurdle, Josh Mask, John Wesley Ray and Clay Casey; and sixth graders were Dakota Dailey and Brian Novarese.
Coaches are Lance McGregor, Jamie Rappa, Craig Dailey and Johnny Ray
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