Hattiesburg rallies to drop Wildcats
By By Cassie Chance /Special to The Star
May 4, 2001
Meridian's Sanduan Dubose entered Thursday night's Class 5A South State championship matchup with Hattiesburg sporting a .471 batting average and a 16-game hitting streak.
In fact, Dubose had hit safely in 32 out of 38 games this season. However, he and the rest of the Wildcats faced the outstanding pitcher-catcher duo of Josh Grant and Craig Tatum.
The Tigers had plans to put a stop to Dubose's streak, and that they did as they rallied in the sixth inning to take an 11-5 win in the series opener.
Hattiesburg coach Larry Knight was proud of his team's effort.
The series resumes with Game 2 Saturday at Hattiesburg's Smokie Harrington Park with a 1 p.m. start.
Meridian's defense came on strong in the first two innings, putting a stop to the Tiger offensive attack. Hattiesburg's top six went down one, two, three in each inning.
The Cats were stopped in the first, but came back in the second to take a 3-0 lead when Ricky McMillian reached on a walk and Kris Barnett reached on a fielder's choice. McMillian scored when Tyler Maxwell sent a base hit to right field. Barnett and Maxwell then scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
Hattiesburg answered in the third in a big way. With two outs in the third, Tiger shortstop Matt Shepherd stepped up to the plate to deliver his first home run of the season. The solo shot cut the Meridian lead to 3-1.
Hattiesburg stepped up the defensive attack and stopped the Cats in the third inning to keep the Meridian lead slim.
Meridian added another pair of runs in the fourth as Torey Bates and Barnett crossed the plate for the Cats.
The Tigers gained one more run in the fourth when Tatum scored on an error.
However, the Hattiesburg offense wasn't through just yet. The Tigers came out strong in the fifth to not only tie the game, but also take the lead.
Cliff Russum was the first batter to face Meridian pitcher Jason Spinks. Russum nailed a base hit to right field and advanced to second on a single to center field by Derek Underwood. Russum's courtesy runner, Josh Barnes, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Shepherd to tie the game.
After Billy Porter reached base after being hit by a pitch, Tatum stepped up and brought in Underwood's courtesy runner, Terry Murphy, and Porter to give the Tigers the lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Meridian in the seventh inning, as consecutive base hits and a walk landed the bases loaded for the Tigers.
Hattiesburg scored five straight runs before Meridian could get an out.
Shepherd, Porter, Tatum, Grant, and Chris Heath all scored in the seventh. Brandon Havens added the final run to give the Tigers the 11-5 margin of victory.
Meridian did not add any runs in the final three innings.
Shepherd led the Tigers by going 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and two base hits. Tatum and Grant both went 2-for-4. Grant picked up the win for the Tigers. He struck out 10, walked five, and allowed seven hits.
Maxwell and Barnett both went 2-for-3. Maxwell reached on a base hit and a walk, while Barnett reached on a fielder's choice and a bunt. John Stevens, Bates, and McMillian all went 2-for-4.
Spinks (6-1) took the loss for the Cats in his five-strikeout, two-walk, and 10-hit performance.