Lake rallies to win opener
By By Mark Beason /Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
May 11, 2001
HAMILTON – For the first five innings, Hamilton pitcher John Ross McCartney was like a tough algebra problem.
However, the Lake Hornets figured out the equation in the sixth inning and rallied for a 7-3 win in Game 1 of the Class 1A state championship series Thursday night.
Lake will attempt to clinch its second straight state championship with Game 2 at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lake.
Hamilton (25-4) led 1-0 heading into the sixth, when Lake erupted for four runs on five hits. McCartney (11-2) had given up just three hits heading into the inning. The Hornets sent nine batters to the plate in the frame, with No. 8 hitter Eric Gunn getting a key two-out single that scored two runs.
Lake pitcher Eric Watkins (9-2) kept the Hornets in the game early. He allowed just three runs, pitching a complete game. The left-hander gave up seven hits and struck out four.
Lake, the defending Class 1A state champion, beat Hamilton in the championship series last season. This is the sixth-consecutive season the Lions have made the championship series, winning titles in 1997 and 1999. The loss is Hamilton's first in the playoffs and it needs a win on the road to force a deciding Game 3 which would be Monday at Hamilton, if needed.
Lake added three insurance runs in the seventh inning, with a leadoff home run by Jason McGee being Lake's only extra-base hit of the game.
The Hornets led 7-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Lions tried to rally in the seventh, scoring a pair of runs, to pull to within four, 7-3.
Hamilton is expected to start right hander Lance Reed (4-0) in Game 2, with Lake countering with Craig Martin (9-1).