High School Sports

First inning lifts Purvis past East Central

 East Central head coach Bo Long.

HURLEY - Purvis took advantage of a big first-inning and held on to beat East Central 2-1 in the first ground of the opening round Mississippi Class 4A baseball best two-of-three series.

The series now moves to Purvis for the second game on Saturday. The third game, if needed, will be at East Central Monday.

Purvis coach Tony Farlow felt the Tornadoes followed the script they needed to follow to win the game.

"We have to pretty much play Saturday the way we played today," Farlow said. "We have to get some good pitching and throw strikes. "And we have to get some timely hits."

Freshman Casey Burge, who picked up his third win of the year in four decisions, said a key was hitting the ball early.

"We need to play good defense and score early," he said. "Playing defense, throwing strikes, and hitting early is the only way to win a ballgame."

East Central coach Bo Long believed the game continued a four-game trend as the Hornets bats went cold.

"We are not swinging the bat that well right now, and it's a bad time to go into a slump," Long said. "Maybe we will break out of it tomorrow. Somebody has got to make the big hit."

The first six Tornado hitters reached base in the first, three on hits, as Purvis scored its only runs of the game early. East Central pitcher Dylan Hall struggled in the first, walking Brady Farlow and hitting Blaine Vowell with the bases loaded to force two runs across the plate. However, Hall was able to get out of the inning when Burge grounded out to Hornets shortstop Reis Trager to start a double play.

"Getting up early in the game helped me a lot," Burge said. "It was fun."

Burge made the two runs stick for Purvis (12-9), getting the first eight Hornet batters out. Josh Avila walked in the third to break up the early perfect-game attempt.

In the fourth inning, Burge started to tire. Will Garriga led off with a single for East Central (11-10). A Burge throwing error on Jacob Vick's bunt, followed by a wild pitch, left runners on second and third for the Hornets with one out. After the wild pitch, Burge intentionally walked Brad Cumbest to load the bases.

Burge got the second out on a strikeout before walking Louis Morgan for East Central's only run. He then induced a grounder back to the mound to leave the bases loaded and get out of the inning.

The Hornets had a chance to pull even in the fifth inning on back-to-back two-out singles from Garriga and Vick. However, Burge would strand the two East Central runners, getting the third out on a fly ball to right.

Ian Vowell finished the game for Burge to collect his first save of the year. Vowell allowed a swinging bunt two-out single to Morgan in the sixth inning and a two-out seventh-inning double to Garriga. Vowell got out of the sixth with a strike out and ended the game on a fly ball to third.

"I was getting tired," Burge admitted. "I felt good about the game. I knew that (Vowell) would go out and shut them down."

Hall started slowly, but recovered quickly. Starting with the double play to end the first inning, Hall 10 consecutive Purvis batters before Myles Kendrick started the Tornado fifth with a single. With one out, Logan Lambeth walked and Vowell followed with a single to load the bases.

However, Purvis would not add any more runs in the inning as Hall induced a bouncer to third. Hornets third baseman Trenton Baldock won the race to third and then threw across the diamond to first for East Central's second defensive inning-killing, bases-loaded double play.

"Hall settled down after a rough first inning," Long said. "After the first inning, he pitched a great game. He only gave up two runs."

Burge pitched the first five innings for the win, giving up three hits and three walks, including an intentional walk. He struck out two batters and the run he gave up was unearned.

Vowell had two singles to lead Purvis at the plate. Lambeth, a single and walk, and Kendrick, a single and hits batsman, reached base twice for the Tornadoes.

Hall would pitch into the seventh for East Central, getting the first out on a pop to the mound and hitting Kendrick before giving way to Blake Duvall, who got the final two outs for the Hornets.Hall took the hard-luck loss, giving up five hits - only two after the first inning - walking three batters and hitting two batters. He struck out three batters.

Garriga went 3-for-4 with a double and stolen base to get three of the Hornets' five hits.