CORINTH – Houston’s Tanner Smith and Corinth’s Kyle Crigger were locked in a pitcher’s duel Friday night in the first game of Class 4A state baseball playoff series.
Crigger did just enough to stymie Houston’s batters and help Corinth come away with the 2-1 victory.
“This was definitely the best pitchers duel I’ve seen this year as far as both sides playing well,” Corinth coach Rob Scarbrough said.
“I brag on my guy, that’s not his first good outing. He’s won several big games for us.”
Crigger pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts and only four hits. Houston struggled to get the ball out of the infield all game.
Crigger put Corinth (23-6) in a position to win, but Baylor Frazier also made two plays to seal the Warriors’ victory.
A wild throw over Frazier’s head in the top of the sixth inning brought Houston’s Tanner Smith all the way to third base with two outs already in the inning. Colten Peel came to the plate next and hit a grounder in the infield, an off-target throw to Frazier for the force out caused him to come off the bag to make the catch.
He had the field awareness to swing his glove quickly behind him to tag Peel before getting on first.
The play kept the game knotted at one run apiece, in the bottom of the sixth, Alex Trice got on base after being hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by Hayden Scarbrough.
Frazier came to the plate and knocked a grounder past a diving C.W. Spencer at shortstop to bring home the go-ahead run.
“Their errors didn’t kill them and our two hit by pitches did,” said Houston head coach Scott Gann, whose defending Class 4A champions fell to 18-12.
“That was the difference in the end.”
Today is a win-or-go-home game for the Hilltoppers. If necessary, Game 3 will be at Corinth on Monday.
“We’ve got to be coming back on Monday,” Gann said.
AMORY – In a battle between two Class 4A baseball opponents, Ripley had the big swings on Saturday night.
Ross Shackleford and Will Long’s back-to-back homers in the seventh lifted the Tigers to a 4-3 win and a sweep of Amory in the second round of the playoffs.
Ripley will face the winner of Itawamba AHS/Kosciusko in the third round.
“All I can say is I love my guys because they don’t ever quit,” Ripley coach Joel Gafford said. “We scored in the first inning, and I felt like our approach was bad the rest of the game. That was a lot of credit to their guy (Ryan) Morgan, who threw a phenomenal game.”
Ripley (24-4) took a 1-0 lead in the first on Cooper Cox’s RBI single.
It was a true pitcher’s duel between Ripley’s Jus Medlin and Amory’s Ryan Morgan until the fourth when the Panthers (16-12-1) clawed their way back in. Aubrey Gillentine led off by smashing a solo bomb to left to tie the game, and Jake Williams drove in his brother Jackson with an RBI double.
The Tigers pulled back even in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Ben Fryar, and the Panthers answered in the bottom half when pinch runner Seth Morgan raced home on a passed ball to go up 3-2.
“Ryan threw a great game for us tonight, and I thought it was an all-out team effort,” Amory coach Chad Williams said. “Everyone gave it what they could. Aubrey’s bomb was big, and so was Jake’s double. We had to work our tails off to get what we got.”
In the seventh, Shackleford and Long changed the game when they homered on back-to-back pitches for a 4-3 Ripley lead.
The Panthers had their final chance in the bottom half, loading the bases on an error and walks to Gillentine and Gunnar Hall, but Cox closed the door and the game with a strikeout.
Medlin allowed five hits and struck out seven, while Morgan allowed six hits and set down six batters on strikes.