Red-hot offense propels Tigers in Game 1By CAMAL PETRO,
It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound; there aren’t too many pitchers who intimidate the Hattiesburg hitters. When Lewisburg’s Bryce Brock, a Mississippi State signee, took the mound, he was 11-0 with a 0.79 earned run average.
“As good as he is, we’re not going to be intimidated,” Hattiesburg coach Joe Hartfield said. “That’s one thing, for sure, and I knew that coming in. I had no doubt about that. I think the schedule has helped us. Did we take some lumps along the way? Absolutely. Obviously, it put us in position to not be intimated.”
Brock touched 92 miles per hour a few times during the contest, but Hattiesburg has seen plenty of aces during the past couple of seasons, including during its trip to North Carolina when it played four nationally-ranked teams.
Although, Hattiesburg senior Dexter Jordan admitted his team hasn’t seen too many pitchers at the level of Brock.
“Like I was telling their first baseman, we haven’t really seen it this year but at this time and at this level right here, whatever it takes, you have to get up there in the box and have an approach,” Jordan said. “We were really patient, let him throw to us, we made good pitch selections and handled our business at the plate.”
When Hattiesburg stepped to the plate in the top of the first, it proved those numbers didn’t matter. Jay Reed led off the game with a walk, which was only Brock’s 12th of the season, then senior Joe Gray singled to quickly put two on with no outs.
A couple of batters later, an infield error off the bat of Kam Wells gave Hattiesburg a 2-0 lead. An RBI double by Letrelle Johnson put Hattiesburg up 3-0 before Lewisburg even had a chance to bat.
The Tigers didn’t let up in the second inning either, and they even had some batters hit twice before six starting Patriots batters could record an at-bat.
Again, Hattiesburg had a leadoff walk in the second inning, then Reedy singled with one out to start the rally. A wild pitch and an RBI single by Wells gave Hattiesburg a 5-0 lead.
In the third inning, Jordan almost sent a pitch over the left field wall, but it hit off the wall to score Gray. Two batters later, an A.J. Stinson double made it 7-0 Hattiesburg.
“Building my confidence, keeping my confidence level high, seeing the pitch up and driving through the ball was really what I needed to get my level back,” Jordan said. “I came back and hit a slider right through so it really boosts my confidence. If I keep that approach, good things will happen.”
The offense didn’t stop there, as pinch-hitter got in on the action. He doubled to left-center field to give Hattiesburg an 8-0 lead, and Jordan added a single to right to push the lead to 9-0.
Hattiesburg had eight different players pick up a hit in the Game 1 contest, including seven of its starters and pinch-hitter Cam Lott. It was a total team effort.
“That’s where we try to win at,” Jordan said. “We know we get runs. Sometimes we lose because of lack of focus on defense but I have great teammates and great coaches to put good hitters in that lineup to get us runs.”