Lake, Hamilton set to tango again
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
May 10, 2001
Just like last year, Lake and Hamilton are the last two teams competing in the Class 1A state baseball playoffs.
Lake defeated the Lions last year to win a state championship in just its seventh year of competition. There are a few differences this time around, however.
One is that Hamilton would get two home games, if needed.
Another is that last year's Lake head coach Wyatt Tullos is now an assistant at Hamilton before he takes a head position at Newton County in August.
If anybody's got the book on Lake's strengths and weaknesses, it should be Tullos.
Game 1 is set for tonight at 7 p.m. at Hamilton with the series returning to Lake Saturday at 7 p.m. for Game 2. Game 3, if needed, would be at Hamilton Monday at 7 p.m.
With or without Tullos, Hamilton is no stranger to the 1A state championship series, winning it in 1997 (beating Natchez Cathedral) and 1999 (beating Noxapater), while losing in 1998 to Noxapater and in 2000 to Lake.
The Hornets, however, don't know what it's like to lose in the title series while the Lions do.
Leading Hamilton, 25-3, are Josh Baty (.440, 13 2B, 6 HR, 28 RBI) and John Ross McCartney (.391, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 15 RBI). McCartney is batting .470 in the playoffs.
Other top Lions are Lance Reed (.377, 8 2B, 1 3B, 19 RBI), Shea Slade (.329, 7 2B), Nathan Self (.324, 7 2B, 5 HR), and Jeff Schafer (.293, 7 2B).
The Lions are 6-0 in the playoffs having swept their first three series. Hamilton got by East Union (9-2, 7-2), Greenville St. Joseph (7-3, 7-6), and Myrtle (10-8, 8-3).
McCartney is 11-1 on the mound, while Reed is 4-0 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the summer and not taking the mound until the final two weeks of the regular season. Schafer is 7-1.
Leading Lake, 27-7, at the plate is right fielder Eric Gunn (.439, 3 2B, 20 RBI) despite batting eighth in the Hornet lineup.
Pitcher Craig Martin is batting .384 with 11 doubles, one triple, one homer, and 33 RBI. Other top hitters are shortstop Jake Nester (.364, 5 2B, 8 HR, 31 RBI), third baseman Bryan Williamson (.360, 7 2B, 1 HR, 26 RBI), first baseman/pitcher Eric Watkins (.316, 1 2B, 1 HR, 22 RBI), center fielder Jason McGee (.313, 8 2B, 3 3B, 17 RBI), second baseman Jason Massey (.272, 3 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI), catcher Brandon Burrus (.252, 5 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI), and designated hitter Lee Dooley (.177, 3 2B, 10 RBI). Also in the lineup is left fielder Allen Lanier
Martin is 9-1 on the mound with a 1.98 ERA. In 72 2/3 innings, he's struck out 69. Watkins is 8-2 with a 2.55 ERA. He's fanned 87 in 66 innings. Nester is 6-0 with two saves and a 2.45 ERA. Nester has struck out 34 in 36 2/3 innings. Gunn is 3-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Lake is 6-1 in the playoffs, knocking off Bogue Chitto (5-2, 10-0), Mercy Cross (8-12, 5-2, 6-5), and St. Aloysius (5-2, 5-4).
Lake's games may be heard on 98.3, WSSI-FM, Carthage.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.