SUMRALL, MS (WDAM) - Long-time Sumrall High School baseball coach Larry Knight has seen more than his share of one-sided games.
But Friday night proved to be something quite different for Knight and his Bobcats.
Sophomore Billy Garrity drove in five runs and freshman Seth Mitchell's grand slam keyed a 13-run third inning as Sumrall waylaid visiting Mendenhall High School 24-0 in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
The game was called after 4 ½ innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
"There's been some games where we've had 10-run rules, but (tonight) it seemed like everybody we put in, got a base hit," Knight said.
Ten Sumrall players accounted for 15 hits, and the Tigers hurt their own cause by hitting seven batters, committing seven errors and issuing four walks.
That left plenty of runners on base to be driven in by the hard-hitting Bobcats (17-8), who sent 18 batters to the plate in the third inning and sent another 14 up to bat after emptying their bench in the top of the fourth inning.
Mendenhall (6-17) used five pitchers to try and stem the flood, but could do little to stop the hit parade.
"We knew once when we got down 6-0 in that third inning that we only have about four pitchers that we really depend on, so we started throwing a bunch of JV guys," Mendenhall coach Ryan Neely said. "But (Sumrall) did what they were supposed to do. They hit it hard and they hit it hard all night."
On the other side, Sumrall senior right-hander Kyle Stringer (6-2) held the Tigers hitless through four innings. Mendenhall first baseman Matt Mabry broke up the no-hitter with a clean single through the hole into left field to lead off the fifth inning.
Stringer, who allowed three other baserunners on two hit batsmen and a walk, got the next two outs before Stone Richardson came in and got the final Tiger to end the game.
Stringer, who struck out five, was pitching on more than a week's rest and struggled to find the zone early.
"I think he was a little rusty, and might have been a little nervous, too," Knight said. "I went out there and had to get him a little refocused. He was aiming the ball, but he came back and threw real well.
"Once we got the lead, it was a breath of fresh air, and he went out and competed and did a great job."
Sumrall took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of unearned runs, with Hunter Barnett scoring on a throwing error by Mendenhall starting pitcher Jake Lunn and Garrett Robbins coming in on Garrity's sacrifice fly.
The Bobcats put the game away in the third inning.
Tanner Morgan singled and went to third base on Zane Berry's double. After Barnett walked to load the bases, Morgan scored on Robbins' single and Garrity cleared the bases with a double for a 6-0 lead.
Garrity scored on a throwing error, and after Sumrall loaded the bases again, Mitchell cleared the left-field wall to put the Bobcats ahead 11-0.
Sumrall wasn't finished, tacking on four more runs for a 15-0 lead on a two-run single by Robbins and run-scoring singles by Garrity and Dannis Jackson.
The Bobcats added nine more runs in fourth, including a two-run double by Colby Stewart, two-run singles by Kros Sivley and Kobe Blackwell and an RBI-single by Logan Powell.
Zane Berry led the Bobcats with a double and two singles, while Garrity and Jackson added a double and single each and Robbins hit two singles.
The teams will meet in Mendenhall at 6 p.m. Saturday for the second game of the best-of-three series.
In addition to applauding his team's play in Friday's runaway, Knight said he spent a good part of his postgame warning the Bobcats not to get ahead of themselves.
"We talked about that, the fact that it's not going to be like (Friday night)," Knight said. "Hopefully, the results are same, but it's not going to be a game like that. Those games come along only every so often, and we've had that.
"So, we've got to expect that on road it's going to be harder. They've done a good job at the end of the year, and while everything went our way (Friday night), we know we're going to have to be ready to play tomorrow."