SUMRALL, MS (WDAM) _ Very little had come easy for the Sumrall High School Bobcats during their first-round Class 4A baseball playoff series with Pass Christian High School.
Monday night at Larry Knight Field was no different.
The Pirates of the Gulf Coast, who started five sophomores in a lineup that wouldn’t win 10 games on the season, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning and were holding on to a 1-1 tie through 3 ½ innings.
But Hayden Barrett’s sacrifice fly drove in pinch-runner Marshall Phillips with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Sumrall pitcher Hunter Barrett dominated down the stretch of the Bobcats’ 4-1 victory.
“Sure, you want it to be a little easier, but I am so proud of Hunter Barrett,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said. “Hunter’s the type that usually goes about five (innings), and then I’ve got to pull him.
“(Monday), I told him, ‘I need you to focus on one pitch at a time,’ and once we got him settled down, got his adrenalin quieted down, he settled in and really started hitting spots.”
Barrett, who missed the first two games of the series with strep throat, allowed a run in the first inning and then pitched around runners in scoring position in two of the next three innings.
But after allowing a leadoff single to open the top of the fourth inning, Barrett dominated, retiring the final 12 Pirates of the game.
All in all, Barrett (6-0) went the distance, allowing a run on four hits over seven innings. He hit two batters, walked one and struck out 11.
He whiffed at least two batters in each of the final three innings.
“The old saying is, you want to try and get them early, and we did that,” Pass Christian coach Ricky Smith said. “I thought we handled the atmosphere very well.
“But as the game began to settle in, he just got stronger as the game went along. “
Pass Christian (9-19) got to Barrett for a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning, when Mason Knapp doubled into the left-center field gap and then scored on a single lined into right-center field by Dustin Allison.
The Bobcats (26-4) tied the game off Pass Christian starter Bryce Dubisson in the bottom of the second inning.
After Tanner Morgan was hit by a pitch, Seth Mitchell singled and Hayden Barrett walked to load the bases with one out. Morgan made it 1-1, coming home when Dubisson was called for a balk while pitching from the stretch.
Barrett worked out a tight spot in the third inning, when Logan Webb’s leadoff single to right field skipped to the wall for a two-base error, sending Webb to third base.
Barrett hit Knapp with a pitch to put runners on first-and-third with no outs, but then struck out Allison, saw Knapp thrown out at second base trying to steal and then struck out Corben Williams to get out oif the inning.
Sumrall had a chance to break through in the third. Dubisson was lifted after a leadoff walk to Graham Crawford, giving way to Marcos Chacon.
Billy Garrity hit into a fielder’s choice, erasing Crawford at second base, before scooting to third base on a single by Hunter Barrett. Barrett was able to move up a base on the throw into third.
Mason Story then lasered a liner into the third baseman’s glove, whose quick throw caught Barrett off the second-base bag for an inning ending double play.
A leadoff single eventually wound up on second base for the Pirates with two outs in the fourth inning. But Barrett got out of the inning with a strikeout, and Pass Christian never had another base runner.
Sumrall went up 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning off Chacon (0-1). Mitchell singled with one out and went to second when the ball bounced over the left fielder’s head. Phillips entered as a pinch runner, went to third base on a wild pitch and scored on Hayden Barrett’s sacrifice fly to right field.
The Bobcats then tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning. Hunter Barrett singled, stole second base and scored on Story’s double. Story moved to third and then scored on the Pirates’ second balk of the game.
“They executed a little bit better than we did (Monday),” Smith said. “We had a runner on third with nobody out and we didn’t get them in. When they had the runner at third, they had the sacrifice fly.
“Give credit to Sumrall. That’s a great team. But I am proud of our guys and how we battled. We weren’t supposed to be here and a lot of people didn’t think we (should have been). But we grew up a lot over the weekend.”
Mitchell and Hunter Barrett each singled twice for the Bobcats, who managed just six hits. Story had the seventh-inning double and Zane Berry had an infield single in the first inning.
Knapp had a double for the Pirates, who got a single apiece from Ian Trochesset, Webb and Allison.
The Bobcats will take on Northeast Jones High School in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. Weather permitting, the first game is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Sumrall.
“They’re very solid on the mound,” Knight said. “They faced (perennial South State baseball power) West Lauderdale, and twice played tight ballgame until late.
“But I know they’ve got good arms and I expect a tough series.”