HATTIESBURG – It was a tale of two ballgames for the Presbyterian Christian Bobcats Tuesday night.
In Game 1 of the second-round series with Madison-Ridgeland Academy, the Bobcats let an early four-run lead slip away. After MRA grabbed control of the game, it never let up in the 13-6 win. Game 2 is set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at MRA, and if PCS wins, Game 3 will follow 20 minutes later.
“We had it going for five (innings), but unfortunately you’ve got to play seven,” PCS coach Jarrett Hoffpauir said. “That’s kind of been our deal. We always talk about playing seven full innings. We didn’t play bad, we just had a couple of balls that we misplayed, then that snowball got rolling and turned into an avalanche.”
The Bobcats jumped out to an early lead thanks to five runs through the first three innings. Wes Walters had an RBI single to center in the first inning, then Brady Logan’s groundout in the second gave PCS a 2-1 lead in the second. In the third, the Bobcats scored three runs off three MRA errors to jump out 5-1.
Walters had his ankle heavily wrapped during the game after suffering an injury recently. He noticeably limped around the bases, but he still went 1-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances.
“He’s tough,” Hoffpauir said. “He basically had to roll off the field and he went and got X-rays (Tuesday), but he stepped in there and got a big two-out hit in the first inning. That just goes to show you what type of player he is.”
PCS starter Jeffery Diamond had the game on cruise control until the sixth inning. He limited the Patriots to just two hits and one run through five innings, but he did walk six during that time as well. He escaped without damage early in the game, but it finally caught up with the senior in the sixth.
MRA started the frame by getting the first two batters on base with an error and a single, then Stone Blanton delivered the big blow – a three-run home run to left field. After Diamond left the game, three batters later Jake Carr gave MRA the lead for good with a two-run shot to left.
Diamond pitched five-plus innings while allowing four runs – two earned – on five hits. He also struck out three but had the six walks.
“We’ve had some injuries (at pitcher), so we figured with two games (Wednesday), we had to get as many innings as Jeffrey could today,” Hoffpauir said. “He battled through it; he got behind in some counts early, but he got us five (innings).”
In an ideal world, Hoffpauir would have liked to let Diamond pitch through six innings, but when MRA cut the lead to 5-4, senior Holden Dykes would have closed out the game. Since the Patriots took the lead in the sixth, Hoffpauir opted not to throw Dykes, who was set to most likely start Game 2 or Game 3 Wednesday.
The Bobcats had a chance to tie or retake the lead in the bottom of the sixth. MRA’s sixth error of the game put Logan on with one out, then Boone Roberson singled the next at-bat. With runners on first and second, Sam Quinn singled to left, and courtesy runner Rad Patterson rounded third too hard and was thrown out trying to get back to third base. That hurt any momentum the PCS offense had built up in that half inning.
Hoffpauir was giving Patterson the green light to run home, but the MRA outfielder hit the cutoff man perfectly, who then fired to third to get the second out of the inning. A strikeout during the next at-bat ended PCS’ threat.
“It’s my fault,” Hoffpauir said. “I take responsibility for it. Looking back, we should have held him up and let the next guy hit.”
Leading 6-5, The Patriots didn’t let up either. After the 5-spot in the sixth, they scored seven in the seventh to put the game away.