Blake Hutchison could see danger in the sky.
The West Point High School baseball coach had already brought the game forward at Columbus High School from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, and the forecast showed thunderstorms. With dark gray clouds swirling over the Hawks’ home field in first place, Hutchison knew the Green Wave had to move fast if they were to beat the weather to win.
West Point (4-12, 2-4 Region 2-5A) scored four goals before Columbus (3-9, 0-6) scored an out in the first inning, scored 11 runs and won 17-1 when the game was due of a lightning near the top of the third one.
“I knew we had to start with the weather quickly,” said Hutchison.
In this way, his Green Wave secured a playoff spot outside of the MHSAA region 2-5A. With a two-game lead over the Falcons, West Point would have to lose its remaining three games – one each against New Hope, Grenada and Columbus – while the Falcons lead the table in the division to miss a top 3 spot after the season.
Columbus manager Mickey Allen admitted those chances are long for a team that only dressed 11 players on Friday due to injuries and other internal issues. The Hawks have lost several players due to virtual learning and have tried to make the necessary effort, Allen said.
“It’s hard to beat someone in 5A when you put on 11,” said Allen. “I don’t make excuses, but that’s a legitimate concern for us: we just don’t have the bodies to compete at the level we need to beat good teams.”
The Green Wave chased falcon starter Tyliq Stallings by just one lead over first place thanks to a combination of walks, hits and Columbus mistakes. Noah Essary’s second RBI single of the West Point inning was the final blow to Stallings as the hit in two runs in right midfield put Green Wave 9-0 ahead. A single from John Austin Ricks and a wild pitch added two more runs before Reliever Bryson Jones recorded two straight outs to end the inning.
“West Point got off that bus and wanted a win to get into the playoffs and they just sealed it,” said Allen. “You just earned your ticket to the playoffs. They deserved it. They deserve everything they got today. “
West Point starter Ben Harrell went up the hill after the eleventh run and immediately got his team back on the plate. He knocked out the Hawks’ top three players in an important shutdown inning for the Green Wave.
“He was one of our more consistent pitchers and we have to give him work,” said Hutchison. “It was good to see him go out and throw so many strikes.”
Cole Ellis and JD Tumey hit two run singles each in the second inning as West Point extended their lead. Hutchison said he emptied his bank because Columbus doesn’t have a junior varsity team and his younger players don’t have a chance to play on Tuesday when the two schools met at West Point.
“I was happy to get them and get a few reps,” he said.
West Point student Elijah Young, who spotted and noted a bug, said he saw an improvement over the Green Wave. Young had 12 hits in four innings in his team’s 14-4 win over the Falcons on Tuesday.
“I have a feeling we will get better as the season progresses,” he said. “We learn more and get better as the season progresses – we mature.”
Young missed a possible playoff spot as a freshman when the season was canceled due to COVID-19. Now, two weeks before the postseason, he’s enjoying the moment.
“It feels great for the first time,” he said.
New Hope 13, Hamilton 2, five innings, Friday
NEW HOPE – Taylor Brownlee drove five runs when New Hope softball beat Hamilton 13-2 in five innings in Friday’s home game.
Kensley Woolbright and Emma O’Bryant each had two RBIs for the Trojans. Woolbright led the team with three hits, and her sister Annie Woolbright and Lexi McBrayer each had two.
Adi Dueitt threw every five innings and hit five.
New Hope will play in Grenada on Monday.
Pickens Academy (Ala.) 10, North River Christian Academy (Ala.) 3, Friday
North River Christian Academy (Ala.) 8, Pickens Academy (Ala.) 3, Friday
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Pickens Academy, Alabama shared the Road Doubleheader with the North River Christian Academy, Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday.
The Pirates won Game 2 10-3 after losing Game 1 8-3.
Pickens will host the Heritage Christian Academy, Alabama, for a double-header Thursday. With a victory the pirates become area champions.
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Amory 11, New Hope 7
South Panola 7, Starkville 6
Hamilton 15, West Lowndes 0, Friday
East Webster 18, Oak Hill Academy 3
Oak Hill Academy 15, Carroll Academy 10, Friday
WEST POINT – After falling 4-0 in the first inning, Oak Hill started his offensive in a 15:10 home win over Carroll Academy.
The Raiders took the lead with a fifth inning in four runs and won first place in their district.
Ty Harden led Oak Hill with two RBIs and Drew Wright had two hits.
Carson Taylor had six strikeouts in five innings for the Raiders.
Pickens Academy (Ala.) 14, North River Christian Academy (Ala.) 0, three innings, Friday
Pickens Academy (Ala.) 16, North River Christian Academy (Ala.) 0, five innings, Friday
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Pickens Academy baseball took two run rule wins against North River Christian in Tuscaloosa on Friday.
The Pirates won Game 1 16-0 after 22 hits, including four from Drake Lowery and three from Aidan Johnson and Hayden Dyer. Lowery had three RBIs to run Pickens while Johnson and Cole Gibson had two.
Lane Lowery threw a full five innings game, surrendering only one hit and knocking out seven batters.
In Game 2, Pickens won 14-0 in three innings. Johnson and Gibson each had two hits and three RBIs each.
Bodhi Parham had five strikes on the hill for Pickens.
Kemper Academy 12, Columbus Christian Academy 3, Thursday
STEENS – An eight-time seventh inning cost the Columbus Christian Academy in the home game on Thursday against the Kemper Academy.
The Rams were injured by mistake late in the 12-3 loss.
Daniel Pate had an RBI double in the first inning with two runs for Columbus Christian and Drake Shaw 2 to 4. Lahndon Townley was the single and goalscorer in the sixth inning.
Jackson Howard threw the first five innings, hitting four.
The Rams play on Tuesday in Kemper in De Kalb.