TUPELO – It basically took the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University to end the 2014 baseball season of the Tupelo Golden Wave. But not before the determined Wave put a scare into perhaps the best team in the state.
It took a solo home run by Austin Riley in the top of the seventh inning to give the DeSoto Central Jaguars the winning margin it would need in Game 2 of their Class 6A playoff series, 5-4 over the Wave. With the victory, the Jaguars win the series 2-0, and advance to the 6A championship series versus Oak Grove. But not before the Wave (28-10) came within the blink of an eye of at least sending the series to a Game 3.
“Our guys played hard,” Tupelo head coach Gary Enis said. “Hudson Roy pitched well. We played one of the best high schools in the state. You have to tip your hat to DeSoto Central the way they battled, and we wish them well.”
Tupelo also battled, trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning against the Jaguars, who have six players that have signed or committed to either Ole Miss or MSU. That was when the Wave made their bid to grab the game. Ty Wheeler led off the inning with a rope off the foot of Jaguars pitcher Keegan James. That began a procession of five straight Tupelo batters reaching base.
William Ikerd had an RBI single, and so did Luke Weeden, as Tupelo pulled within 4-3. Still with no outs and the bases loaded, Woody Goss got down a nice squeeze bunt to score Micky Sesin and tie the score.
The Wave attempted one more bunt in the at bat with runners at second and third, but the attempt turned into a double play, allowing the Jaguars to escape further damage.
Tupelo still was looking fortune in the eye in the top of the seventh as the visitors recorded quick outs on a grounder to Wheeler at first and a splendid diving stop and throw from shortstop by Goss. But up stepped Riley, who already had three hits in the game including a two-run home run. On the second pitch he saw, he lofted the ball to left center that just cleared the fence for the go ahead run.
“We talked about putting him on base,” Enis said. “But I second guessed myself. He got just too much of the barrel of the bat on the ball. It was either face Riley, or face the guy on deck (Clay Casey) that had already hit 14 home runs this season.”
Carter Clayton did draw a one-out walk, and reach second base in the bottom of the seventh for the Wave.
DeSoto Central broke the ice on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. A walk, a fielders choice, then an error scored the first run, and a double by Hayden Tapper scored another for a 2-0 lead.
Tupelo responded in its half of the frame as Ikerd led off with a single, pinch runner Sesin advanced to second on a bunt by Weeden, then scored on a double by Matthew Miley to cut the margin to 2-1. But like the sixth inning, the second inning ended with an attempted squeeze that turned into a double play.
The contest progressed to the fifth, where with one out and a runner on base, Riley blasted a ball easily over the left center wall for a 4-1 DeSoto Central lead.
Roy hurled a marvelous contest on the mound for Tupelo. In six and two-thirds, Roy scattered four hits to eight Jaguar batters, but also the additional four to Riley. James started and pitched into the sixth inning, with ace reliever Dallas Woolfolk on the mound for the final six outs. Tupelo out hit DeSoto Central with nine hits.