It took three games, but Kosciusko advanced to the second round of the 4A baseball playoffs by defeating North Pontotoc. The Whippets play Mooreville beginning Thursday.
The home team won all three games. The Whippets took the first game 3-1, dropped game two 12-9 on a walk off home run, then wrapped up the series with an 11-2 victory.
After the second game, Kosciusko Coach Derrik Boland had some words of wisdom for his players.
“I just told them this is playoff baseball. Anything can happen,” he said. “I said we made a few small mistakes in that game. But tomorrow is a new day, and we have to come to the field ready to play.”
The decisive game wasn't as easy as the final score might indicate. North Pontotoc scored two runs in the top of the first. Kosciusko tied it in the bottom of the inning on a leadoff single by Kaylan Powell and a home run by Ethan Wood. For the next three innings there were nothing by zeros put on the scoreboard.
Kosciusko made sure there would not be any last inning heroics from North Pontotoc by scoring six runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
“We strung together some hits,” Boland said — five to be exact, on singles to start the fifth by Parker Ryals, Landon Wallace on a drag bunt, Powell, Larson Fancher and Wood.
Ty Ramage went the distance for the Whippets allowing six hits and pitching shutout ball over the final six innings. Boland said it was one of his best performances of the season “hands down.”
Wood and Wallace combined on a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in the first game. Wood worked the first five innings, allowing three hits and no earned runs, with five strikeouts. Wallace finished up with two strikeouts in two hitless innings.
The Whippets' six hits included a triple by Nolen Yuille and a double by Powell.
The second game ended in dramatic fashion with a three-run homer by Tyrese Roberson in the bottom of the seventh. It was a see-saw game that saw the Whippets fall behind twice, then take a 9-7 lead with three runs in the fifth. North Pontotoc tied it with two in the sixth before winning it in the seventh.
Wallace had two doubles. Reece Kentner drove in five runs for North Pontotoc.
“We hit it well. We scored nine runs,” Boland said. “But they hit it better. We ran into a buzz saw.”
Kosciusko will begin the second round on the road against Mooreville Thursday. Game Two will be at Kosciusko Friday, with a third game, if needed, at Mooreville Saturday. First pitch for all the games is slated for 7 p.m.
Mooreville, Region 4-2 champion, swept Greenwood in the opening round to stretch its winning streak to eight games.