PURVIS - Purvis coach Tony Farlow couldn’t hide the joy in his face as the baseball program renamed the field in his honor.
As he was given a special plaque to commemorate the honor, Farlow then saw a second surprise. His own players, who were quickly running to center field while their coach was districted to display the already made letters to be hung on Purvis’ centerfield wall.
“It was a surprise and a shock,” Farlow said. “I had no idea there were going to do something like this. I’m very grateful.”
Farlow simply thought he was just selecting a raffle winner for the Purvis High School baseball alumni game. However, an odd audience emerged before Farlow made up of former players, Lamar County school officials, former rival coaches, media, family and his own players strangely gathering in the outfield grew his suspicion that something was happening.
“I’m grateful for the three (of my coaching) opportunities I’ve had to coach at the three different schools, all of the wonderful players and assistant coaches I’ve had through my career,” Farlow said. “We’ve just had so many rival games around here. They were friendly rivals, and some a little unfriendly. Those games are so big and so fun to be a part of that. You win some and lose some that make it special. The kids everywhere I have been at have been special.”
Farlow’s career began by coaching his brother’s little league team while working in construction three years after high school.
“When I graduated high school, I did construction work for three years,” Farlow said. “I actually coached my little brother’s little league baseball team and enjoyed it and loved it. My Sunday school teacher was talking about it, and I wasn’t happy about doing construction work. I remember he said to me, ‘You need to go back to college and be a coach.’ When he told me that, it was like a light went off. That’s what I want to do.”
Farlow, who has won six south state championships and three state championships, coached his team to his 593rd win earlier in the day with an 11-0 no-hitter, run-rule win against Laurel to kickstart the Tornados’ season.
The Tornados got on the board in each inning and capitalized on Laurel's three errors and 11 base hits.
“Offensively, we didn’t have a lot of high hopes entering the season,” Farlow said. “We did a lot of intersquads and have gotten better offensively. We haven’t seen anybody that throws hard yet because none of our guys throw hard. I would think that’s going to be a concern for us as we start seeing some better pitchers with better velocity.”
Leading the Purvis offense was Hunter Robinson, who reached base in all four of his at-bats. Robinson was 2-for-3 with an RBI, drew a walk and reached on an error.
An RBI single by Jacob Parker, an RBI by Damon Putnam and an error scored the Tornados’ first three runs in the first inning. Then Damen Piercy delivered a two-run RBI single in the second. Laurel then allowed three runs to score on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a balk to bump in the third inning. Robinson added an RBI single to extend the lead 9-0.
Purvis closed the game with another wild pitch scoring a run and an RBI single from Robinson.
On the mound, Walker Flatt, Hunter Jackson, Piercy and Jojo Parker completed the no-hitter as they combined for eight strikeouts while walking two batters and hitting another.
“We had a bunch of guys wanting to throw today,” Farlow said. “We changed them every inning or so. We had a couple more guys we wanted to get in to get the first game jitters out of the way. It’s a good start. We hit the ball well, and we pitched really well.
“Got a no-hitter and a win today. It’s a beautiful day and the sun is out. I get to spend some time with some of these guys I used to coach. It’s not work.”