POPLARVILLE – After battling through a single-elimination tournament, Team McCarty secured the first-ever Deep South Summer Collegiate League championship on Thursday.
In the opening round of the tournament Team McCarty jumped out to a 7-1 lead against Team Garner in the sixth inning.
Team McCarty quickly scored three runs in the first inning as Murray Hutchinson (Jones College) kick-started the scoring with an RBI single. Eli Harrison (East Central CC) then followed with a two-run RBI single.
In the second inning, Cooper Brune (Delta State) hit an RBI double while Oak Grove alum Kade Shannon (Jones) knocked in a sac fly in the bottom of the fifth inning. Oak Grove alum DeeJay Booth (Jones) hit an RBI single in the seventh while another run was walked in the sixth inning.
At the same time, Team McCarty’s Miles Smith (South Alabama) threw six innings in which he allowed two hits, walked one batter and recorded seven strikeouts.
His only flaw came in the second inning as Von Seibert (Pearl River CC) hit a solo home run.
“Miles did what Miles has done all year,” Team McCarty coach Kirk McCarty said. “He dominated the strike zone and knows exactly who he is on the mound. He is competitive and was just great for us.”
However, Team McCarty’s bullpen struggled and gave up two runs in the seventh inning to narrow the score 7-3. After McCarty added a run in the eighth inning, Seibert hit a second home run that cut Team McCarty’s lead to 8-6.
Team Garner’s offense continued to capitalize on Team McCarty’s bullpen struggle as Reece Ewing (Southern Miss) knocked in a run on an RBI single with Sumrall alum Graham Crawford (PRCC) tying the game 8-8 in the top of the ninth with an RBI triple.
Despite allowing Team Garner to rally from behind, Team McCarty managed to seal the game after getting two runners on base. Harrison, facing a 2-0 count, hit a walk-off double to send Team McCarty to the championship game.
“The pitcher fell behind 2-0, and I was just looking for a good ball to put up in the air with a man on second and third,” Harrison said. “I put a good swing on it, and good things happened. It’s definitely a big deal. It’s a summer league but it’s playoff baseball, and there is something different about that. Thankfully we rallied back and got win.”
Unlike the opening game, Team McCarty cruised through the championship as Hunter Stanley’s (Southern Miss) starting pitching kept Team Parker off the board for the first four innings of the game.
At the same time, Team McCarty broke the game early with an eight-run frame in the second inning. Team McCarty came away with seven hits in the inning and drove in seven of the eight runs as an RBI.
“At one point, we scored eight in the second inning, but it wasn’t by walks or hit by pitches,” McCarty said. “We’ve seen that in some games in this league. We hit the ball, and we hit it hard, so I was proud of that.”
Stanley recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed four hits, two of which were notably to his college teammate Fisher Norris (Southern Miss), who doubled off him twice.
“I hope he keeps hitting like that going into the fall,” Stanley said. “He is a really good player. As long as he swings the bat, then he is going to be good.”
For Stanley, who was named the DSCL’s Pitcher of the Year, it was one of the stronger outings he had felt, and that learning from McCarty helped strengthen his game.
“I definitely felt better than I did this week than I did last week,” Stanley said. “I think my velocity was back up this week. My fastball was beating them, and I was able to keep them off balance with the slider.
“I’m glad Kirk had the confidence in me for me to pitch this game. It’s good to be the first Deep League champs. I loved playing for Kirk and was able to pick his brain with him being in the minor leagues, especially from a pitching standpoint. It helped me out some learning what he does and what he sees in me. I really enjoyed it.”
Team McCarty extended its lead to as much as 12-0 before Team Garner got on the board with three runs in the sixth inning. Ultimately Team McCarty came away with a 14-6 win to secure the league’s title.
Notably, Alden Davis (South Alabama) finished the championship game 4-for-4 with two RBI while Hutchinson was 3-for-3 with two RBI and a drawn walk.
The championship is McCarty’s first championship in his first-ever head coaching job.
“It’s my first team to every really coach,” McCarty said. “It’s my only team that I have been at the helm for, so I was super excited. I told them that no matter how big or how small you feel, you don’t just wake up and have a championship. It’s a cool feeling.”