May 15, 2010 11:10:00 PM
HAMILTON -- In 1903, pitcher Joe "Iron Man" McGinty more than lived up to his nickname when he notched complete game victories in both games of a doubleheader three times in the month of August.
Bruce High School senior pitcher Caleb Hanley will probably never get the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues, but his pitching exploits this week certainly qualify him as a prep "Iron Man."
Thanks to the arm of Hanley, Bruce has advanced to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A state championship series at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Hanley, who tossed a six-inning 10-0 shutout against Hamilton on Friday night to even the Class 2A North State series at one game each, came back less than 24 hours later and gutted it out for 4 2/3 innings under a blazing sun to pick up his second win against the Lions, this one a 6-5 decision Saturday afternoon.
Earlier this week in a do-or-die Game 3 at Eupora on Monday, Hanley was credited with a seven-inning, complete-game win.
Now 17 2/3 innings of work in one week may not match McGinty''s feat over a century ago, but it does prove the Trojans'' right-hander isn''t afraid of work.
"He''s my only senior starter and he wanted the ball today," said Bruce coach Sid Burt, who as a player at Houlka never played on a team which beat Hamilton. "He pitched us to a key win Monday with seven solid innings and then he shut Hamilton out last night (Friday) at our place on only 66 pitches. We hoped we could get 50-60 pitches out of him today and he didn''t disappoint."
In addition to coming back from a one-game deficit to post back-to-back wins against the Lions to claim the North State title, Burt said beating Hamilton on the road was special.
"I told coach (Lewis) Earnest earlier that if we were to win this thing, I wanted it to be against Hamilton because they have a top-notch program," said Burt. "Their pitching is the best we''ve seen this year and to get to the finals you have to beat the best and that''s the way it should be."
Hanley, who had scattered seven hits and owned a 6-3 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, gave way to Jay King after Dylan Earnest slapped a double off the fence and Chase Reeves drew a walk.
King came in and walked Devin Hopper on four pitches to load the bases, but then got out of the inning unscathed on a force out at second to preserve the Trojans'' three-run lead.
The Lions made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh when Kevin McCartney drilled a first-pitch home run which caromed off the roof of a car parked behind the right field fence and ended up at second base on the girls'' softball field.
Seconds later, Dylan Earnest made it back-to-back dingers with a monster shot of his own to cut Bruce''s lead to 6-5 with no outs. Undaunted, King settled down and retired the next three Lions to punch the Trojans'' ticket to Pearl.
"A couple of errors early on and a lot of missed opportunities cost us dearly," said Earnest. "Between the first inning and the seventh inning, we didn''t do a whole lot to help ourselves offensively or defensively."
Earnest was quick to admit Bruce did what it needed in order to win, however.
"They are a scrappy team that isn''t afraid to swing the bat," said Earnest. "They hustle, they don''t hurt themselves with errors and they like to keep the pressure on offensively. Too, coach Burt does a good job and I think the fact they will be playing for the state championship shows what a good job he does do."
Chase Reeves started on the mound for Hamilton and was charged with the loss. The junior lefthander gave up seven hits and all six Bruce runs, only two of which were earned as four Lion errors proved costly. He fanned five and walked three.
Dylan Earnest came on in relief to start the fifth and gave up five hits, struck out five and did not issue a free pass.
Hamilton used the long ball to take a 2-0 lead in the first when Dylan Earnest and Hopper both homered, but Bruce quickly tied the game at 2-2 on a Hamilton error, a Tyler Kilcrease single, a pair of fielder''s choices, a walk and a Barry Wooten single.
An inning later, the Trojans increased their lead to 5-2 thanks to back-to-back singles by Chase Clark and Hanley, two wild pitches, a Hamilton error and a two-run double by Tiny Moore.
"Tiny is maybe 5-8 and 150 pounds, but he got all of that pitch," said Burt. "Looking back, that was a big-time hit for us."
A Kevin McCartney double and an RBI single by Reeves cut the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the third, but Bruce came right back with what proved to be the winning run in the top of the fourth following walks to Barrett Wooten and King and an RBI single by Clark.
Bruce totaled 11 hits in the Game 3 clincher, as Clark (3) and Kilcrease (2) combined for five safeties to lead the way.
Earnest brought down the curtain on a sterling senior season with a double and two home runs, as McCartney did likewise with a double and a home run.
Bruce will face the Taylorsville-Richton winner in the state championship series.
n Bruce 10, Hamilton 0: Bruce out-hit Hamilton by two (9-7) and had twice as many errors (2) as the Lions, but Hanley was the difference maker in the Trojans'' 10-0, 6-inning win which evened the North Half series at one game apiece..
Hanley faced just three batters in both the first and second innings, four in the third and sixth frames, and five in the fourth and fifth.
Hanley''s teammates, meanwhile, scored once in the second, four times in the third, three times in the fourth and then added two more in the sixth to notch the win via the 10-run mercy rule.
Third baseman Chase Clark and designated hitter Codie McMahan accounted for four of the Trojans'' nine hits, as Barrett Wooten, Jay King, Matthew McDowell, Tyler Kilcrease and Reed Gregory also hit safely.
Austin Welch and Parker Rye had a pair of hits for the Lions, one up on teammates Kevin McCartney, Devin Hopper and Cole Gill.
Four Lion pitchers - Austin Earnest, Brandon Fikes, Clay Atkins and Ethan Earnest - all took turns trying to stem the tide, all to no avail. Earnest (7-2) started and was charged with the loss.