PEARL, MS (WDAM) _ Taylorsville High School pitcher Walker Gable insisted that he didn’t approach Wednesday morning’s opener of the Class 2A state championship baseball series any differently than any other game.
“You can’t let the moment get overwhelming,” Gable said. “You’ve just got to be yourself on the mound.”
And that was exactly what the Tartars’ right-hander did.
Gable, who came in unbeaten and allowing less than half-a-run a game, held Calhoun City High School to one run on five hits as the Tartars took an 8-1 victory in the first of three games Wednesday at Trustmark Park.
Gable struck out seven. His only walk was intentional. He had to work through some difficulties in the third and fourth innings, but retired 12 of the final 13 Wildcats he faced.
Heck, Gable even drove in two Taylorsville runs.
“He’s that guy,” Taylorsville coach Dusty Hillman said. “We’ve depended on him all year, from game one, and he’s been that guy for us, so I don’t expect any less from him.
“He’s a hard-working kid, a great kid, and anything you ask him to do. He’ll run through a brick wall for you, and that’s the kind of kid you want out there.”
Taylorsville (26-9) and Calhoun City (29-4) are set to resume the best-of-three series at 1 p.m. Friday. A third game, if necessary, would be Saturday.
The Tartars grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning off Calhoun starter Gage Lucius when Branson Sharpley led off the game with a triple and scored on an errant pickoff attempt.
The Tartars went up 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning when Raven Arrington singled and eventually scored on a grounder by Gable.
After working out of a third-inning jam that saw the Wildcats put men at second and third base with one out, Gable ran into worse issues an inning later.
Preston Conlee led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single. Clay Miller followed with an infield single that was thrown away at first base ball that was misplayed at shortstop, leaving both runners safe, and Tashone Corbitt’s short single loaded them up.
Jobi Cook followed with a grounder that forced the runner at second but brought home Conlee from third and leaving runners on the corners.
But after a conclave, the umpires ruled interference at second base, calling the runners out at both first and second. The run still scored, the Wildcats still had a runner at third base, but the double play meant two outs and Gable got out of trouble with a strikeout.
“I don’t know, it’s just fun to me, pitching,” Gable said. “It was just a thrill.”
After that, Gable dominated and Taylorsville broke the game open with a run in sixth and five more in the seventh.
Kenner Todd’s grounder brought home the run in the sixth inning. Aiden Moffett’s two-run single highlighted the big seventh, which also included a run-scoring single from Kason James and a sacrifice fly from Gable. The fifth run scored on an error.
“That’s just the way this game goes,” Hillman said. “You don’t play for that big inning in the state championship because the other team you’re playing is that good, too. They’re not going to give up that big inning or they wouldn’t be here.
“We got lucky right there with some ‘small ball,’ and then got a big hit to put the pressure on them.”
Corbitt led Calhoun City with a double and single, while Conlee, McGreger Lee and Peyton Chandler each hit a single.
Lucius (8-2) took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in five innings. He walked three, struck out five.
Gable (9-0) had two of his team’s six RBIs. Sharpley had his team’s lone, extra-base hit with his leadoff triple. Cline hit a pair of singles, while Moffett, James, Arrington, Kason Evans and Ky Buckley each singled.