SOUTHAVEN – The Tupelo Golden Wave baseball team needed to play flawless defense Thursday. It did not. Tupelo needed to keep the DeSoto Central Jaguars from getting extra base hits. It did not.
The highly-favored DeSoto Central squad did not dominate, but they did defeat Tupelo 9-2 in Game 1 of their Class 6A semifinal matchup. DeSoto Central takes a 1-0 lead in the best of three series, which continues with Game 2 Saturday in Tupelo at 6 p.m.
“We got beat by the better team today,” Tupelo head coach Gary Enis said. “We’re going to practice tomorrow (Friday), and then come back and play them Saturday. We’ve got to get better in both phases of the game.”
At the plate, DeSoto Central (26-8) had a very effective eight hits. But at the same time, The Wave helped the Jaguars with five errors and four walks.
The Jaguars started off the scoring in the bottom of the second with runners on base through an error and a walk. Hayden Tapper then connected on a solid single that scored the two runs.
More of the same in the third as Keegan James had a no-out RBI single. Following a walk, an error, and a hit with an error, Central scored two more for a 5-0 lead.
DeSoto Central kept the pressure up in the fourth as a walk and a single was eventually followed by a James two-run triple. James later scored on a sacrifice fly, and the home team had a 7-0 lead.
“Honestly, I think I threw good pitches, they just hit my best stuff,” said Tupelo starting pitcher Carter Clayton, who was on the mound for all six innings that Central batted. “We had a few mental mistakes, but that’s not the reason they scored runs. They’re a good hitting team.”
Meanwhile, Tupelo bats looked fairly solid against the formidable DeSoto staff, which saw Austin Riley start and throw five innings, with Dallas Woolfolk throwing the seventh inning.
The Wave had three hits through four innings, then saw Chase Cernigliaro and Ty Wheeler lead off the top of the fifth with singles. Williams Ikerd followed, hitting a rocket up the middle. But the ball bounced off the glove of Riley. The DeSoto pitcher had basically tipped the ball to himself, and then doubled Wheeler off first.
Tupelo broke through on the scoreboard in the sixth. Woody Goss reached on an error, and scored on Hudson Roy’s double. Then with one out, Michael Ray doubled in Roy. The Jaguars added a run in the sixth on an error, a walk, and a single by Riley.
“I was pleased with the overall offense,” Enis said. “But we couldn’t match their offense with ours, but you have t attribute some of that to Riley.”