RIPLEY • The Ripley Tigers met Pontotoc in round two of the Class 4A baseball playoffs last week. The Tigers defeated Pontotoc in a pair of tightly contested games to take the series 2-0 and advance to round three where they will face off against Mooreville.
Game One: Ripley 3, Pontotoc 1
The Tigers struck first in game one in the bottom of the first, thanks to a Hayden Fortune solo homer to left field. Ripley threatened to extend their lead both the second and third innings after extra-base hits by both Drew Coombs and Jak Ketchum, however neither were able to cross home plate.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 3-0 after Ketchum scored on a Pontotoc error, followed by Conner Graves hitting a sacrifice fly to bring another run home. Pontotoc responded with a Jon Robert Carnes solo home run to lead off the top of the sixth, but it was all the run production Pontotoc could make, as Ty Long shut Pontotoc down for a majority of the game.
Long got the start for the Tigers, pitching all seven innings while giving up only one run on four hits, while striking out eleven Pontotoc batters. Ketchum, Fortune, and Reed Scott all picked up a pair of hits for the Tigers in game one.
Game Two: Ripley 4, Pontotoc 3
Pontotoc came out of the gate in game two looking to improve their run production, and got immediate results, scoring three first-inning runs to take a commanding 3-0 lead. A Fortune solo homer, his second of the series, cut into that lead in the top of the fourth inning, as Ripley started to gain ground on Pontotoc.
A Ty Long groundout brought another run home in the top of the fifth, before Fortune’s third solo homer of the series, as well as a Graves solo shot in the same inning, gave the Tigers the lead in the top of the sixth. Despite the three early runs, starting pitcher Micah Johnston recovered nicely and did not allow another run for the rest of the game, sealing the win in the bottom of the seventh for the Tigers by forcing a groundout, a pop-up, and picking up his eighth strikeout of the game.
Johnston finished with seven innings pitched, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out eight. Fortune and Graves both went 2 for 3 at the plate with a home run apiece.