High School Sports

No. 2 West Harrison, No. 3 George County battle to final inning

West Harrison's Kasey Donaldson attempts to steal second base guarded by George County shortstop Bryson Scott during the Battle at the Beach baseball tournament on Friday, March 17, 2017, at Biloxi High.
West Harrison's Kasey Donaldson attempts to steal second base guarded by George County shortstop Bryson Scott during the Battle at the Beach baseball tournament on Friday, March 17, 2017, at Biloxi High. amccoy@sunherald.com

For much of Friday’s game it looked as if No. 2 West Harrison was going to run-rule No. 3 George County. GCHS coach Brandon Davis challenged his players with as much, telling them they could either fold or battle back.

The Rebels chose the latter, loading the bases in the seventh before WHHS reliever Lawson Capers induced a game-ending double play to secure the Hurricanes’ 7-5 victory.

Following the game, which was played at Biloxi High as part of the week-long Battle at the Beach baseball tournament, both coaches seemed to have opposite attitudes toward the game’s outcome. Despite losing the game, Davis left Biloxi feeling encouraged. WHHS coach David Marsland, on the other hand, wanted to see a complete effort out of his No. 2 Hurricanes (11-2).

“The thing that gets me is when you get a team that’s down like that, you have to be able to capitalize and score more runs,” Marsland said. “We didn’t. We got comfortable with the lead, which is what happens with high school kids, we let them back in the game and then made a couple mistakes. But a good team finds a way to win and we did.”

Early struggles

George County starter Trevor McDonald struggled with his command and the Rebels (9-5-1) ultimately made four errors.

The Hurricanes worked three walks in the first inning and took a 1-0 advantage on a Cade Simon sacrifice fly.

WHHS put up a four-spot in the second, scoring runs on an error, a fielder’s choice and a two-run single by Brandon Parker.

A wild pitch and successful squeeze bunt in the third pushed West Harrison’s lead to 7-0.

Then the game’s momentum completely flipped. After surrendering just four base runners in the first three innings, Simon issued four walks in the fourth inning, the final plated George County’s first run.

Things didn’t get any better for WHHS in the fifth. A single, sacrifice fly and back-to-back doubles by Jathan Staton and Cameron Cotten cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 7-4. WHHS pulled Tate Parker from the outfield to put out the fire. After the reliever threw two more walks to load the bases, Fisher Ray grounded out to first base, scoring what ended up being the Rebels’ final run.

Following a quiet sixth, GCHS loaded the bases with one out in the seventh for one more potential scoring outburst. Capers moved to the mound from third base and quickly induced a grounder to Simon on the hot corner. The Hurricanes’ starting pitcher stepped on the bag and threw across the diamond to complete the double play and preserve West Harrison’s 7-5 win.

Davis believed whatever started with his team in the fourth inning ended up being infectious.

“What I told them was nobody in our stands, nobody in their stands, nobody in (West Harrison’s) dugout, not even the umpires believed we could come back. Nobody,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter what they believe. What mattered was what they believed in that dugout and they started believing.

“There aren’t any moral victories, but I felt like we learned something tonight that will help us win down the road.”

Statistically speaking

Simon earned the win, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Both Parkers pitched in relief before Capers came in to earn the save.

Ethan Coleman and Cotten each recorded a single and a double for GCHS. Logan Tanner led the Rebels with two doubles.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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