HED:Tupelo gets by Munford in eight innings
By Parrish Alford
OXFORD Tupelo High's first game in the Mississippi Challenge was decided by walks, balks and errors.
Fortunately for the Golden Wave, balks and errors by Munford, Tenn., carried the most weight.
The Wave rallied from a 7-4 deficit to force extra innings and beat the Cougars 8-7 at Ole Miss's Swayze Field Friday.
Oxford's Chargers got strong pitching from Brandon Ridgeway and a key sacrifice bunt to knock off Cherokee, Ala., at the Oxford High field. Starkville and Memphis Briarcrest played Friday's late game. The two-day event concludes today with two games for each team.
Tupelo's win was its first in the Challenge after being swept last year. Golden Wave pitchers walked nine Munford batters.
"We have got to cut down on our walks," Tupelo coach Larry Harmon said. "We were walking the 7, 8 and 9 batters to get to the top of the order, and they were putting it in play."
The Wave (13-2) made it a 7-6 game in the fifth with two runs on two hits. Jason Miller had an RBI single in the inning. The tying run, however, didn't come until the seventh when Munford starter Heath Genagar balked home Jake Hill. It was Genagar's third balk of the game.
"We were trying to make him balk," Harmon said. "That was a gift run, and it was a big run to tie the game."
More Munford gifts were on the way. Kelly Shumpert and Hill reached on errors in the eighth, and after Luke McAlpin bunted both runners over, Jonathan Bell was intentionally passed to load the bases.
That brought up Andy Williamson, who singled to right to score Shumpert with the game winner.
"This was a big win," Harmon said. "We got the big hit in the clutch to win the game. Our hitting has been a constant for us. We're scoring a lot, but we're walking too many, and that's putting pressure on the defense."
Chad Iverson lasted 1 1/3 innings for the Wave, walking four in his brief stay. Freshman Reed Hawkins pitched 4 2/3 with four more walks. Hill came in with two on in the seventh and held the Cougars scoreless for the win.
Oxford 5, Cherokee, Ala. 4: Oxford's Will Corban laid down a squeeze bunt in the fourth inning to drive in courtesy runner Jason Bailey with what proved to be the winning run for the Chargers (11-1). Bailey was running for Chuck Cooper, who had singled.
"We didn't have the squeeze called, but (Corban) bunted the ball to the right side, and that ended up being the winning run," Oxford coach Roger Smith said. "I'm proud of that young 'un for giving himself up to help the team win."
Ridgeway helped, too. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth and picked up the win for Oxford. The Chargers never trailed. They scored twice in the second and twice more in the fourth, then held off a late Cherokee rally.
"They knew where to be and made the routine plays, and it kept them in the game," Smith said. "They like to got us."
Tupelo 8, Munford, Tenn., 7
Munford 130 120 00 7 11 2
Tupelo 300 121 01 8 8 1
WP - Jake Hill. LP - Micah Bennard. Multiple Hits - (T) Andy Williamson 3. (M) Steve Ledford, Zac Scott 3. 2B - (T) Hill, Jonathan Bell. 3B - (T) Williamson, Burney Hutchinson.
Records: Tupelo 13-2, Munford 2-4.
Oxford 5, Cherokee, Ala. 4
Cherokee 000 002 2 4 5 3
Oxford 020 201 x 5 4 3
WP - Brandon Ridgeway. LP - Nicholas Thompson. Multiple Hits - (C) Douglas Hargett 3. 2B - (O) Corban. (C) Hargett.
Records: Oxford 11-1, Cherokee 2-4.
Today's Schedule: At Ole Miss: 10 a.m., Cherokee v. Starkville; 1 p.m., Oxford v. Munford; 4 p.m., Tupelo v. Cherokee; 7 p.m., Oxford v. Briarcrest.
At Oxford: 1 p.m., Briarcrest v. Tupelo; 4 p.m., Starkville v. Munford.