PURVIS – The final at-bat of Purvis’ game against Pascagoula on Friday night was a moment that seemed to play in slow motion.
The climactic ending of Purvis’ 11-10 extra-inning win came down to a bunt by an eighth-grader, Ethan Walker.
Pascagoula set up the game-winning play in the top of the seventh inning as the Panthers loaded the bases with two outs. The Panthers came up with an RBI single to right field. Pascagoula waved the go-ahead run to home plate, but a perfect throw by Jacob Anderson to Walker to tag the run out sent the game to extras.
“That was a huge play for us,” Purvis coach Tony Farlow said. “It was good to see a break go our way. We were on the ropes at times, and they were in the ropes. It was back-and-forth. Somebody had to win it, and I’m glad it was us.”
After keeping Pascagoula off the board in the eighth, both Walker Flatt and Purvis caught a lucky break. Flatt reached base on an error to start the inning. Flatt’s heads-up baserunning helped him to get to second base on a passed ball. However, his most brilliant moment came as Kevin Krummel flew out to the catcher. Flatt noticed Pascagoula’s third basemen failed to cover the base as he tagged up and reached third.
“(I was thinking) a ball in the dirt, read the bunt down and making sure nothing goes in the air then score the run to win,” Flatt said. “I knew they left (third base) open. (My third base coach) said he knew he was going to me, but (Pascagoula) would have heard, so I just kept my head up.
“I had 100% confidence in my teammates. I knew (Walker) was going to put the bunt down for the win.”
Walker then stepped to the plate and immediately got the signal for him to lay down the bunt and set up the safety squeeze. However, on Walker’s first attempt, he nearly popped out to the first baseman.
“I was told before that if that we got to third that I would bunt,” Walker said. “When he got on third base, they gave me the sign. The first bunt, I went under the ball and got it in the air. I had to dial it down and get that bunt down. I thought he was going to catch it, but I just had to dial it back down. I knew that was the game-winning play right there.”
On Walker’s next attempt, he laid the bunt down to first base. The first baseman managed to make a throw in time, but, Flatt beat the tag as the ball came fumbling out of the Pascagoula catcher’s glove to win the game. As the umpire signaled safe, a world series dog pile ensued at home plate. It was a moment that Farlow said his team deserved after coming up short in their two previous losses.
“From a confidence standpoint, we needed to win a game because we have lost two really close games,” Farlow said. “It was good to finally get one tonight. There was a bunch of people in and out of the lineup. A bunch of people who contributed tonight. It was definitely a team win.”
The game itself was anything but pretty. Purvis and Pascagoula combined to give up 19 walks in the game. The Panthers’ pitching allowed eight walks, threw three wild pitches and two passed balls, and hit one batter. The Tornados walked 11 batters and hit three more.
“It was very frustrating, and we pitched so good on (Thursday) against Madison-Ridgeland Academy,” Farlow said. “We just couldn’t throw strikes. I don’t know if Pascagoula would have hit us or not, but it’s frustrating. I thought we were done after that.
“This team doesn’t quit. We aren’t the most talented offense, but they don’t quit. I’m proud of that.”
At the start of the game, Purvis jumped ahead 4-1 by the third inning. A two-run home run by Damon Putnam put the Tornados on the board, with the two other runs scoring from a wild pitch and passed ball. Pascagoula scored its run from an RBI sac fly in the second inning.
The Panthers quickly shifted momentum in the fourth inning by scoring six runs and capitalizing on Purvis’ pitching problems. A two-run double and a grand slam gave Pascagoula a 7-4 lead. In the fifth inning, an RBI single and a run walked in extended the lead 9-4.
However, Purvis took advantage of Pascagoula’s multiple throwing errors, which plated three runs while another run scored on a wild pitch.
In the sixth inning, Purvis pushed ahead with a solo home run by Jacob Parker and an RBI double by Hunter Jackson to go up 10-9.
“We threw a lot of balls and hit batters, but (Pascagoula) did too,” Farlow said. “It was frustrating early. Like I said, walks just killed us. That’s what I told them.
“We have had three games on the road where we have had a chance to walk-off and win it. In the first two, we fell short. Purvis is known for walk-off wins at home, and it was good to see them get it because they hadn’t quit in the last two games. They battled until the end, just a hit short. It was good to finally get it tonight.”