HED:Hattiesburg plays Golden Wave's game and wins
By Parrish Alford
HATTIESBURG - The Hattiesburg Tigers did the things Tupelo High wanted to do Thursday and walked away with the result the Golden Wave wishes it had.
Tupelo coach Larry Harmon had stressed "manufacturing runs" against Hattiesburg, but it was the Tigers who got the key hits to earn a 4-1 win and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 Class 5A championship series.
Game 2 begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the THS baseball field. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
Thursday, Tupelo out-hit Hattiesburg 6-5, but only once did the Golden Wave get consecutive hits. Even then, Billy Curry's fourth-inning single was harmless, because Hattiesburg pitcher Jermaine Van Buren had just picked off Burney Hutchinson, who had singled ahead of Curry.
Van Buren did some picking off at the plate, too, with a biting curve that helped him register nine strikeouts.
"We got the leadoff man on twice, and he got picked off twice," Harmon said. "We were never in a situation to manufacture runs."
But the Tigers were. J. Corbet Kobs led off the bottom of the first with a triple to center field in cavernous Smokie Harrington Park, then scored on a ground ball out.
Tupelo's Justin Bounds (8-3) kept the Tigers (27-11) off balance much of the game, but they scratched for two more in the fifth with a two-run single by pinch-hitter Jeff Lacher. By then a three-run lead for Van Buren seemed like a mountain.
"We had heard (Van Buren) was a power pitcher, but today he was relying on his curve," Harmon said. "He made quality pitches at critical times."
Van Buren was clocked at 90 mph five times in the first two innings.
"I could tell when Jermaine was warming up that his curveball was working," Hattiesburg coach Larry Knight said. "Lately he's been throwing fastballs more. His curve hasn't worked as well. Against Pascagoula his curveball was average. It wasn't like it was today.
"We had heard from a couple of teams that they have trouble hitting curveballs. That wouldn't have mattered today, the way he was throwing it, if they could hit curves or not."
Tupelo's first five hits were singles. The Wave (27-10) didn't get an extra-base hit until Jeff Boyd doubled with one out in the seventh. Pinch-runner Holt Montgomery then scored the Wave's only run of the game when Jake Hill reached on an error.
The double was Boyd's second hit of the game. He singled to lead off the second but was picked off by Van Buren.
"We had opportunities to move people over, but the pickoffs hurt us," Harmon said. "We played well at times, but we did not do the things we had to do. We did not put pressure on their defense with ground balls, and we made mistakes that helped them."
Hattiesburg 4, Tupelo 1
Tupelo 000 000 1 1 6 4
Hattiesburg 100 021 X 4 5 1
WP - Jermaine Van Buren (9-4). LP - Justin Bounds (8-3). Multiple Hits - (T) Jeff Boyd 2. (H) J. Corbet Kobs. 2B - (T) Boyds. (H) Jared Kobs. 3B - (H) J. Corbet Kobs.
Records: Tupelo 27-10. Hattiesburg 27-11.
Notes: Game 2 is at 1 p.m. Saturday with Game 3 to follow if needed. ... Hattiesburg's Jeff Lacher, who had a two-run single in the fifth, has batted fewer than 10 times this year.