By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress-Times
The playoff series between Eupora and Baldwyn was truly one for the ages, with the Eagles eventually outlasting the Bearcats 10-7 on Tuesday night to win the third game and the series, earning the right to face East Webster for the MHSAA Class 2A North State Baseball Championship this weekend.
“It was absolutely one of the best series I have ever been a part of,” said EHS head baseball coach Brad Mitchell. “Both teams just kept fighting and wouldn’t give up. One team would step up and the other one would follow. It was really something special.”
Baldwyn scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh and one in the bottom of the eighth to overcome a 5-1 deficit and take a 6-5 win in the first game of the series on Saturday. “That one we felt we let get away from us,” Mitchell said. “But give them credit, they wouldn’t quit.”
Monday saw Baldwyn hit for three in the third and two in the fourth to take a 7-3 advantage only to have Eupora rally for five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to go ahead 8-7. The Eagles eventually held on to win 10-8 and set up Tuesday’s deciding contest.
Mitchell is quick to agree that it was the five-run fourth inning in the second game that changed the whole flow of the series.
“Oh yeah, there is no doubt that was the difference,” Mitchell said. “Two months ago we would have just rolled over. It wasn’t that we weren’t playing hard, it’s just that we weren’t as confident. We have our confidence now and getting behind doesn’t rattle us. We just keep on playing.
“That (inning) was a momentum swing,” he said. “They were gaining momentum and that (inning) changed everything. You could see things starting to go their way (before that).
Eupora’s Lawson Stewart delivered a three-run double to spark the five-run inning.
Eupora had 10 hits in the game, with Stewart leading the way with a single and double and five RBIs. Claude Herard also had a double and single for the winners, while Jalen Embry popped a pair of singles and Will Bowen and Rusty Johnson each cracked a double. Picking up singles for EHS were Corson Gunn and Joshua Rollins.
Trey Pittman earned the win on the mound, striking out four while walking just one and giving up just three earned runs.
Eupora had 11 hits in Friday’s 6-5 loss, with Pittman smacking a trio of singles to lead the Eagles. Herard had a double and single, while Rollins had two singles and Johnson ripped a double. Bowen, Stewart and Embry each had singles for EHS in the contest.
Tuesday’s deciding game was just as exciting and drama-filled as the first two.
EHS went up 2-0 in the top of the first only to have Baldwyn score three in the bottom of the inning. The teams scored one run each in the fourth inning and two runs each in the fifth inning as Baldwyn held a 6-5 lead after five innings of play.
Eupora then hit for four runs in the sixth and one in the seventh and then held on for the 10-7 win.
Gunn had four singles to lead EHS offensively and pitched four strong innings on the mound, before Johnson came on to pitch the last three and earn the win.
Johnson had three singles for Eupora, while Lamarcus Caradine ripped a double and single and Stewart had a pair of hits. Rollins and Embry also had singles to aid Eupora’s 13-hit attack.
Eupora pays a visit to East Webster today (Thursday) at 7 p.m. for the first game of their three-game series. The second contest is set for Eupora at 1 p.m. on Friday. The third game, if necessary, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at East Webster.
The winner of the series will advance to play in the MHSAA Class 2A State Baseball Championship Series at Trustmark Park in Pearl next week against the winner of the South State Series between Taylorsville and Enterprise. The first game of the championship series would begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21.
By Austin Bishop