June 30, 2009
Danny P Smith -
Playing seven games in four days can be taxing on a pitching staff.
Ridgeland High School coach Brian Rea was glad he had an ace in the hole with Michael Posey.
Working on two-days rest, Posey took the mound for Ridgeland on Monday and pitched six strong innings to help the Titans beat Kosciusko 6-1 in the championship game of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series at New Hope High School.
It was a repeat for Ridgeland as it defeated New Hope to capture the title last year.
"We read a lot about how the number of teams in this thing had decreased, but you''ve still got to win seven ballgames," Rea said. "If you do that over a four-day span, it''s tough on anybody so it''s quite an accomplishment and we''re proud to represent Ridgeland and Ridgeland High School. Winning it back-to-back is a big deal for us."
After Posey started the first game of the World Series in a 5-3 loss to Center Hill, Rea didn''t hesitate to use him again in a key situation.
Posey responded by only allowing two hits and striking out six in six innings. He walked four batters in the first three innings and one of those in the third scored.
"He gave us a good performance," Rea said. "He was a little shaky on his balls and strikes early, but settled in."
Posey said his arm felt fresh durng the game, but was a little sore afterwards. His main objective was to throw strikes and let the defense play behind him.
The opportunity of being the starting pitcher in the championship game was enough to motivate Posey to pitch well.
"Winning back-to-back in anything just feels great," Posey said. "Words can''t really express."
The Titans gave Posey an early lead to protect as Jarrett Jenkins reached on an infield single in the first and scored on a single by Stephen Joe, then Tate Ratcliff doubled and came home on a single by World Series Most Valuable Player Hunter Twitty.
Rea said the versatile Twitty deserved to be the MVP.
"He caught, played left, right, shortstop, pitched and drove in runs so it was no doubt he was the MVP of the tournament," Rea said.
After Kosciusko cut its deficit in half with a run in the third, Ridgeland got the run back in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Tate Ratcliff.
Twitty''s sacrifice fly to score Jenkins in the sixth increased the Titans'' advantage to 4-1, then they added two insurance runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Hunter Lohman and an RBI single by Mark Varnado.
"We''re real proud of the offensive performance," Rea said. "We put up some runs in this tournament."
Sean O''Quin pitched the seventh for Ridgeland.
Koscuisko left five runners on base in the first three innings and coach Johnathan Jones believes it could have been a different outcome if those runs had score.
"We had a chance early in the ballgame," Jones said. "We couldn''t get that key hit when we needed it and couldn''t manufacture."
Ryan Lawrence had a single in the first inning and Chris Cockrell doubled in the sixth for Kosciussko''s only hits.
Kosciusko used two pitchers, Coy Sorrenson and Kenny Barrow, who will be sophomores next season. They combined to scatter eight hits.
Varnado had two singles for the Titans, while Lohman and Ratliff had one double each, and Jenkins, Twitty, Joe and Collin Carroll had one single each.
Even though the Whippets were down to inexperienced pitchers, Jones was proud of the effort they gave.
"We have young guys but they stepped up and played the whole weekend," Jones said. "These guys have learned a lot and have been in some playoff atmospheres, especially (Sunday night and Monday). That''s big for them because they haven''t been a part of that much."
Pitcher Patrick Stewart, catcher Cole McBride, shortstop Ty Dean, third baseman Tyrell Harmon and leftfielder Cockrell made All-Tournament first-team for Kosciusko as did pitcher Tate Smith, catcher Lohman, first baseman Carroll and Twitty for Ridgeland.
Members of the All-Tournament second-team were Will Fuller for Starkville Academy, Jeremy McGowan, Jomar Concepcion and Cody Harrison from Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.) and Austin Smith and Joel Sistrunk from Neshoba Central.