New Hope sweeps Sumrall in 4A state championship series

By CAMAL PETRO,

PEARL – The Sumrall Bobcats couldn’t find that elusive timely hit in Game 2 of the 4A State Championship series Friday.

After stranding 11 on base in Game 1, the Bobcats left eight on base in the Game 2. The New Hope Trojans didn’t need much run support, as they finished off the sweep with a 4-0 win to claim the 4A State Championship.

“We had runners on a couple of times,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said. “Not a whole lot, but we did have some guys on for opportunities for us. It was tough.”

Sumrall had a decent amount of opportunities to plate a run throughout the night, but New Hope starter Ryan Burt completed the two-hit shutout with five strikeouts and four walks.

Knight remembers seeing the left-hander in last year’s state championship when Vancleave swept New Hope. Burt pitched a complete-game six-hitter in a 1-0 loss, so Knight knew his Bobcats were in for a difficult night.

“I remember him last year being very impressive,” Knight said. “I don’t think he’s had the year stat wise that he had last year, but he pitched a great game. You have to tip your cap to him. He had his changeup working and commanded the strike zone.”

The scoring chances started in the first inning for the Bobcats, as senior Dannis Jackson reached on an infield single and senior Billy Garrity walked with two outs. But like the trend of the rest of the night, the two were stranded on base.

Burt pitched two straight 1-2-3 innings in the second and third frames, but Sumrall left two more on base in the fourth. In that same inning, Garrity walked for his second time of the night with one out, but he was thrown out trying to steal second base on a failed hit and run play.

“We felt like with the strikes that he was throwing, we needed to try and do something,” Knight said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t put the bat on the ball and got thrown out. Of course, they made a couple of errors after that and if we would have put the bat on the ball, who knows. It may have been a big inning.”

The Bobcats put two more runners on base in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but they couldn’t find the timely hit to scratch a run across. Sumrall was sat down in order on nine pitches in its final try in the seventh inning.

Jackson and senior Zane Berry recorded the team’s only hits Friday night, while Garrity walked three times.

Sumrall starter Hunter Barrett gave his team a chance to win with his performance on the mound, too. He worked five innings which scattering five hits. The Trojans scored four runs – two earned – off the senior with a strikeout and a walk.

“I thought he competed well,” Knight said. “The second run they got on a two-strike hit that he just poked into center field. I really thought Hunter competed and gave us a shot.”

New Hope scored its first run off a sacrifice fly in the second, then another run came home when Drew Brown singled to center field with one out in the fifth. Barrett allowed a leadoff single and a walk to start the sixth, and sophomore Kros Sivley entered to pitch the remainder of the game.

Burt, the first batter Sivley faced, made it a 3-0 game when he hit a sac fly to right, and Stallone Shelton doubled down the third baseline two batters later to push the lead to 4-0.

Sumrall finishes the season 32-8 overall.

“We felt like we had the group to do it this year, and of course, it’s never easy in 4A south,” Knight said. “This week has been tough. We played Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, then off Wednesday and come back Thursday and Friday. It was an emotional series with West Lauderdale (in south state). You just have to think it was a little bit draining and a little bit of energy that maybe we didn’t have because of all the games this week.

“But, that’s part of it. Everybody had to deal with it. I’m very proud of the fact that our guys got us back here and gave us a chance.”

(Photo by Richard Thompson)