SUMRALL – A big fourth inning helped Petal blow past Presbyterian Christian 15-3 in the Adidas tournament hosted by Sumrall on Thursday.
“I thought in the (fourth), we really got zoned in with seeing the ball,” Petal coach Shane Kelly said. “That’s what we have been waiting on. We knew the power and the potential to hit from this team could do those types of things. It’s really good for us to see that and gives us a lot of confidence heading into the next game.”
PCS (6-2) got on the board in the first inning, with Wes Walters driving in a run on a fielder’s choice to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. Petal then answered with an RBI single from Jayden Mark to tie the game 1-1.
However, Petal’s hitter soon began to find success off PCS’ starter Charlie Vann. Petal added a run off an RBI single before Vann walked in a run. The Panthers then followed with a sac fly and two-run double to extend the lead 6-1
“Anytime you get into trouble with a team like that, it’s difficult,” PCS coach Jarrett Hoffpauir said. “They swung the bats well. Tip your hat to them. We didn’t pitch it very well. We had some chances to score some runs early, and we didn’t take advantage of it. Anytime you get down to a team like that, it’s tough.
“That’s a conference-type team right there. That’s a team that we are going to see later on the year with the Jackson schools. We are going to learn from it and get better at it. We’ll give a better effort next time.”
The highlight of the day for PCS was Blake Wilberding, who robbed a home run in the second inning.
“Blake has been playing great both offensively and defensively,” Hoffpauir said. “He is kind of our leader right now. He is doing what seniors are supposed to do, and that’s playing good defense and swinging the bat, and getting timely hits. We are going to ride him as long we can.”
The Bobcats narrowed the deficit after Petal’s pitcher Blake Hooks loaded the bases by allowing a single, then walking and hitting a batter. Hooks was called for a balk, which narrowed the deficit 6-2.
Petal (4-2) broke the game open in the fourth by scoring eight runs in the inning. This was highlighted by a 2-run home run by Eli Britt and then a grand slam by Bobby Magee.
On the mound for the Panthers, Hooks and reliever Eli Counts held PCS four hits and struck out five.
“Sometimes it takes Blake (Hooks) a while to get settled in,” Kelly said. “Once he figures out where he needs to be on the mound, he usually does a pretty good job of shutting hitters down.
“It was great to have an under shooter come in and take care of business. (Counts) lets your defense do the work. He’ll give up a few chinkers here and there, but I thought he did his job and coming in and shutting the door for two innings in a row.”
In total, the Panthers racked up 10 hits and drew five walks.
“I think it is a (confidence builder),” Kelly said. “When you get an opportunity to 10-run rule a team is sometimes hard to do. We missed out on an opportunity earlier in the week. For them to come out here and take advantage of that situation and save pitching for the tournament was big for us. PCS is a great team. They are fundamentally sound. I was proud of how our guys played and what they did against their pitching.”