District 5, for a second straight day – and a second straight loss – wasn’t lacking in hits. It lacked the runs needed to win. District 5 was eliminated from the State Games of Mississippi Baseball Tournament Thursday afternoon after a 7-6 loss to District 8 at Meridian Community College despite shelling out 14 hits. District 8 finished with just eight hits.
“We hit the ball well only to get six runs,” said head coach Dusty Hillman. “It’s crazy, but that’s baseball. Some mistakes late are what cost us.”
Leading 6-4 in the bottom frame of the sixth, a passed ball, followed by an error on the throw back to the plate, tied the game at six runs apiece. District 8 tried its luck on an intentional rundown between first and second base with runners on the corners minutes later. It worked in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game 4-4. And it worked again in the sixth to give District 8 the go-ahead run and eventually the win.
“They scored two runs on a passed ball and two runs on a first and third situation,” said Hillman. “It was a tough one for us. But once again, the only way I know how to explain it is to say that’s just baseball.”
District 5 showed the top frame of the third with seven hits, including RBI singles from Kason James (Taylorsville) and Sam Hill (West Jones), and a two-run single off bat of Cole Tolbert (West Jones). The four runs put District 5 on top, 4-2. District 8 answered two innings later to take the score at four apiece in the fifth. An RBI single by Will Hodo (Wayne Academy) and an RBI groundout by Tolbert put District 5 back on top, 6-4, before all that transpired in the sixth eliminated the team from further play in the tournament.
Mason Smith (NEJ), who had been hot at the plate all tournament, finished with just a single on Thursday. Smith went 5-for-10 (.500) in the three games District 5 played.
Hodo led the team with three hits; Tolbert and James finished with two apiece. Logan White (Wayne Academy), Jalen Ayers (Wayne County), Tanner Parker (West Lauderdale), Adam Bassett (West Jones) and Mark Diers (South Jones) each had solo base hits.
Hill and Mason Willis (West Lauderdale) both pitched in the 7-6 loss to District 8. Hill started the game on the mound. He lasted four and one-third innings. Willis came in relief and finished the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, District 5 got the would-be tying run on first, but two strikeouts ended the contest.
A 10-8 loss to District 4 on Wednesday night put District 5 in the losers bracket.
Despite the outcome, Hillman (Taylorsville) said the experience is always fun.
“I love doing this,” said Hillman. “I’ve been doing it for eight of the last 10 years. I love it and enjoy it. I get to coach kids in our area that you compete against year in and year out. You get to find out what kind of kids they are. Sometimes you may think differently about a kid when you’re playing against him and find out he’s that kid you’d love to have on your [high school] team when you get a chance to meet him and coach him here. All of this is fun and its fun to watch all these kids perform in front of all these [college] coaches.”