Hammer Franks and the Tupelo 49ers responded in a big way on Saturday.
After losing the late game on Friday, Tupelo bounced back and defeated West Tampa Post 248, 6-0, in the fourth round of the American Legion Baseball Southeast Regional Tournament in Tampa, Florida.
The win pushes Tupelo into a game today, where it will face Alabama’s Troy Post 70 at 8:30 a.m. CT for a chance to play in the championship.
The winner of Tupelo and Troy will face Louisiana’s Pedal Valves for the Regional Championship promptly thereafter.
“You could see it in their eyes this morning that our guys weren’t going to go quietly,” coach McKinley Holland said. “There’s times you can look at your team and just see they’re about to go out there and perform and give all they have. They did exactly that.”
After recording a save in the second round on Thursday, Franks (Mooreville, NWCC) started the game on the mound and cruised through 6 2/3 innings. He allowed no runs on only four hits and struck out four batters.
After loading the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, Franks was pulled. Tupelo’s Mack Scruggs then entered the game and retired the first batter he faced.
“He put the team on his back,” Holland said of Franks. “He really did. At this point of the tournament, to have someone throw almost a complete game and not have to waste any arms, that was just huge.”
Tupelo scored five of its six runs in the fourth inning to jump ahead by a big margin, then added its sixth run in the fifth inning.
After a double and stolen base by Shawn Dalton Weatherbee (Thrasher, NEMCC), Franks drove him in on a fielders choice.
Following a double and a intentional walk to load the bases, Chad Stephens (Belmont, NEMCC) hit a two-run single to left field, then continued around the bases himself after both the left fielder and shortstop made an error, resulting in four runs scoring on the play and a 5-0 lead for Tupelo.
In the fifth inning, Ramsey Ivy (New Site, NEMCC) hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to cap the scoring off.
Weatherbee finished with two hits.