May 6, 2013 1:21:57 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
On a day of rest for most, the New Hope High School baseball team was hard at work.
The Trojans breezed past Yazoo City 12-2 in a five-inning Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State playoff game played on the rare Sunday afternoon at Trojan Field.
New Hope (17-8) and Yazoo City (14-15) are now even at a game apiece in the first-round best-of-three series. The decisive third game is at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Yazoo City. New Hope was anxious to get back at it, after dropping a 7-6, 8-inning decision in the series opener Saturday at Yazoo City.
"We were very motivated to come out here and play," New Hope junior shortstop Will Golsan said. "We felt like we deserved to win Saturday and didn't. That made us really want to come back out here and get another chance to play again. We had a new attitude today and played really well."
New Hope coach Lee Boyd was in the unusual position of really liking how his team played in the series opener, even in a losing effort.
"We played quite well in the first game," Boyd said. "We had a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning. We had 11 hits. We did a lot of things well. That is why you play a three-game series. Even though we lost the first game, you feel good if you play well. If you play well three straight games in a series, you are most likely going to find a way to win the series."
Yazoo City sophomore right-hander Darrius Wright threw all eight innings in his team's victory Saturday. Wright threw more than 140 pitches but will most likely be pressed into service in Tuesday's series finale. Wright's worth to the pitching staff was evident quickly Sunday, as New Hope scored nine runs in a 30-minute first inning.
"When you play an elimination game, sometimes the kids can be tense," Boyd said. "I thought it was very important that we came out and had the nine-spot right away. After that, everybody relaxed. The biggest thing that it did for us is it allowed us to get (starting pitcher) Taylor (Stafford) out of there right away."
Stafford faced a minimum six batters in his two innings of work, with four strikeouts. Sophomore Wells Davis completed the contest on the mound and that duo teamed up for a five-hitter.
"We really wanted to come out and show what New Hope baseball is all about," New Hope senior catcher Tee Payne. "The first game was disappointing because we were right there but we didn't win. Today, we wanted to come out and show no mercy. The big first inning was huge. We know we are excited about going back over there Tuesday and finishing the job."
In his customary leadoff spot, Golsan started things with a triple in the bottom of the first inning. Landon Boyd followed with his theme of getting on base. Boyd walked twice and reached as a hit batsman. Stafford followed with the first of his two hits.
New Hope only managed five hits in the first at-bat but turned that stanza into the 9-0 lead.
"It starts with Will, getting that big triple," Payne said. "That is what he does. He does those kinds of things. We were really ready to go after the last out Saturday night. He set the tone and the whole team fed off of it from there."
Stafford followed with a two-run double in the second inning as the lead quickly grew to 11-0.
"This was a solid win for us," Boyd said. "We had to make a change before the game because (catcher Jake) Hollis couldn't go with a jammed thumb. We put Peyton Lane at first and he had a hit. Wells Davis got some good work on the mound and he's only a sophomore. He got a hit, too.
"Again, we played well in the first game and I thought we just really continued that. Now, we have to go back on the road and play with some confidence and continue to play well."
Boyd threw six innings in Saturday's contest. Stafford and Golsan threw in relief. Each will be available Tuesday. A victory there would mean more rest time as the Trojans would not be back at it until Friday.
"We feel like we can be a tough team to beat when we put it all together," Payne said. "We don't get down when things don't work out. We just keep working hard to get better. Tuesday is another opportunity and we got to make sure we are ready to take another step."
Golsan and Stafford were the lone Trojans with multiple hits. Keon Jones had two singles for Yazoo City.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter