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By RUSSELL TURNER
The Greene County Wildcats earned possibly their biggest win of the year thus far on Friday, taking down nationally-ranked Sumrall to split the home-and-away series with the Bobcats and keep GCHS in good shape in the region standings.
The 7-3 win over the Bobcats may have surprised some, but didn’t take head coach Nick Chatham by surprise. Chatham said last week he fully expected his team to compete with the highly-favored Bobcats and believed his team would win. After a 10-0 loss in the series opener on Tuesday that probability may have seemed unlikely, but Chatham’s team battled from the first pitch at home on Friday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and keeping the pressure on throughout the 7-inning affair.
“This was truly a team win,” Chatham said. “Drake (Henderson) had a very strong showing on the mound, but we also put a lot of pressure on them offensively.”
“This was definitely a good win against a very good team. Hopefully, we can build on it moving forward.”
The victory over Sumrall was the Wildcats’ fourth in the past five games. Most importantly, it pushed their record in Region 7-4A to 2-2, just a game behind Sumrall and Purvis, who are each 3-1 after the first two weeks of region play.
Greene County set the tone for Friday’s win with several clutch hits off of Sumrall starter Kros Sivley. The sophomore lefty had been strong for the Bobcats, but GCHS seniors Garrett West, Kenneth Moore and Noah Mitchell each drove in a run in the bottom half of the first to give Henderson all the cushion he would need.
Henderson tossed a complete game in the win, scattering six hits and giving up three earned runs. His 11 strikeouts were the most for the Sumrall team since 13 Bobcats fanned in the season opening win over Hattiesburg. Henderson didn’t make many bad pitches as he walked just one of the 29 batters he faced. When he did make a mistake, Sumrall hitters took advantage as three of their six hits were for extra bases, including two home runs.
One of those homers came in the top of the fourth inning and cut the Cats’ lead to 3-2. But, the momentum was shortlived for the visitors as GCHS put up four runs in the bottom half of the frame to take control. The Cats benefitted from a few mishaps by the Bobcats during the inning, but also got some key hits to take advantage of the situation. Senior Dalton Jenkins earned one of the RBIs in the inning, while Henderson had a single and an RBI to help his cause.
Henderson gave up his only walk to start the final inning, but followed that with a strikeout and two ground ball outs to seal the win.
Cats beat Resurrection 7-2
Friday’s emotional win didn’t cause a letdown on Saturday as the Wildcats cruised to a 7-2 over Resurrection Catholic in a non-region matchup.
The Wildcats belted out nine hits in the win, including five extra base hits. Jenkins led the way with two doubles and two RBIs. West and Henderson also had 2-RBI days at the plate, while junior third baseman Dylan Miller capped off the scoring with first official homer of the year.
Junior Malachi Graham claimed the win on the mound for GCHS with two innings of work as the starter. Freshman Conner West and Moore gave support out of the bullpen. West scattered five hits over four innings and had four strikeouts, while allowing two earned runs. Moore threw the final frame for GCHS and struck out two of the four hitters he faced to close out the win.
Poplarville series huge this week
Greene County hopes to continue their hot play this week when they take on Poplarville in 2-game series. Poplarville enters the matchup with a 2-2 record in region play as well after dropping two to Sumrall and responding with a sweep of Forrest County AHS last week.
The series gets underway Tuesday with a road trip to Poplarville and continues on Friday when the Hornets visit Scott Bray Field. Game times for both dates are 4:30 p.m. for JV, followed immediately by the varsity action.