Cats drop series opener to Forest Hill
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
April 27, 2001
In playoff baseball, clutch hitting and precision pitching almost always make the difference between winning and losing.
The Meridian High Wildcats learned that lesson the hard way, as the Forest Hill Rebels had more than enough of both of those as they came in to John Moss Field and blitzed the Cats 11-5 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Coming back strong almost epitomized the Wildcats' seventh frame.
Down 5-3, Kris Barnett was beaned after Torry Bates went down swinging. A pair of walks loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Richmond Alexander got the Cats to within winning range.
The Rebels looked as if they would get out with a win in regulation, as John Stevens came up and fought through a two-strike count.
But his single to left tied the game and pinch runner Greg Harris rounded third with every intention of ending it.
But Rapheal Ward came up throwing with a pinpoint strike to catcher Vance Avalon. Avalon hauled in the offering a good three steps ahead of a surging Harris, who stopped short of plate rather than attempting a slide.
The result was extra innings and Forest Hill (22-9) was determined not to stay in Meridian for very much longer.
With the game tied at five in the top of the eighth, the Rebs came out and smacked the ball around for a six-spot on five hits that silenced the John Moss faithful.
Forest Hill head coach Tommy Groves credited his squad's resilience.
The Cats (23-13) looked to make it interesting again in their half of the eighth by loading the bases once again. But as they managed to do all night, the Rebels came away unscathed and are now in the drivers seat of the series.
The Wildcats will try to stay alive in the Saturday game in Jackson that will begin at 6 p.m.
McLemore will send John Hays Compton to the hill for Game Two.
Sanduan Dubose kept his hitting streak alive and Torry Bates tied the game at 2-2 with a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth. Bates had the big stick for the Cats, with a 4-for-5 performance in a contest that saw the Wildcats tie the contest three separate times.
Maxwell took the loss, giving up the Rebs' final seven runs.
Forest Hill chased starter John Iverson, who yielded seven hits and four runs in four and two-thirds innings of work. the Cats did the same to Joey Dearman in the sixth, but with the bases loaded and only one away, the Cats came up empty, as left hander Mitchell Taylor got the final six strikes.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at firstname.lastname@example.org.