Though hits were few and far between for Sumrall’s offense Friday against New Hope starting pitcher Ryan Burt, the Bobcats benefited from a bevy of errors and walks, and they were given ample opportunities to put runs up on Trustmark Park’s scoreboard. However, not one Bobcat player crossed home plate in the must-win game.
Burt stranded eight Sumrall baserunners on the way to tossing a one-hit shutout for the Trojans, who completed the sweep of the Bobcats in the Class 4A State Championship series with a 4-0 win.
“You gotta tip your hat to him,” Sumrall coach Larry Knight said. “He [Burt] had his changeup working and commanded the strike zone. We were hoping he would get to his pitch count, but he didn’t quite get there. That last inning was pushing it, but he just threw a heckuva game.”
Zane Berry had Sumrall’s only hit against Burt. The two-out, fifth-inning single gave the Bobcats a pair of baserunners, but Burt got the very next batter, Graham Crawford, to fly out to end the frame. All told, the Bobcats left two runners on base in four different innings.
“We had runners on a couple times,” Knight said. “Not a whole lot, but we did have some guys on and an opportunity for us. Graham hits that ball pretty good to right center, and if that gets in the gap, the game could change, but it didn’t happen.”
After Crawford’s fly-out, New Hope took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning. The Trojans struck first with a sacrifice-fly off the bat of Stallone Shelton in the second inning, and they added an RBI single from Drew Brown in their half of the fifth. Two sixth-inning insurance runs later, New Hope’s lead grew to 4-0.
The Bobcats left two runners on once more in their half of the sixth before going down 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game, their fifth in the last six days.
“You gotta think there was maybe a little bit of drain, a little bit of energy we maybe didn’t have because of all the games this week, but that’s part of it,” Knight said. “Everybody had to deal with it, and some played more than others and some didn’t.”
“But I’m very, very proud of the fact our guys got us back here and gave us a chance. If we would have sealed that first game off, at least we’d be sitting here trying to play Game 3, and that was a pivotal thing that didn’t happen for us. But very proud of our seniors.”
Sumrall finishes the season 32-8.