April 27, 2013 11:01:08 PM
Sometimes you need to do a little redecorating.
Things get stale, so a new color pattern or a new arrangement can create erase a blah feeling and generate a new energy in a room.
Lee Boyd discovered Friday what works in interior decorating also can be effective in dugouts.
Trailing 3-2 and looking to put a charge into his players, Boyd tidied up in the dugout and found new homes for some helmets and bats. He didn't do it quietly, and he didn't go unnoticed.
"He said we weren't woke enough," New Hope first baseman Tee Payne said. "He just came in and just started throwing helmets and bats and said, 'Wake the bats up.' I was just trying to stay out of the way so I wouldn't get hit."
Boyd's impromptu redesign provided an instant spark, as New Hope sent 16 batters to the plate and erupted for 12 runs in the bottom of the fourth and went on to a 14-4 victory against Lake Cormorant in game two of their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State playoff series at Trojan Field.
The victory, coupled with a 12-2 win against Lake Cormorant in six innings Thursday, sends New Hope (19-7) into the next round, where it will take on Region 3 winner Yazoo City. Game one of that best-of-three series will be Thursday at Yazoo City. Game two will be at New Hope on Friday. If it is needed, game three will be at Yazoo City. Times for the games haven't been determined.
New Hope had nine hits, including five doubles, in the fourth to make a winner out of senior right-hander Landon Boyd, who walked three and allowed four hits in five innings.
Payne said the Trojans sometimes need a little motivation to get rolling. On this day, Payne said coach Boyd's words clicked immediately and helped them start what seemed like a parade around the bases in the fourth. The first nine batters in the inning reached base on hits, walks, or hit by pitches.
"J.C. (Redden) started it off (with a single), Parker (Earhart) got hit (by a pitch), and it just started like clockwork," Payne said.
Boyd, who admits he is a "real laid-back guy," hoped to get his players fired up by tossing a few pieces of equipment. The result was a second run-rule victory in as many nights. On Thursday, New Hope's offense roared to life in similar fashion after a slow start. Payne said the Trojans relaxed after the first few innings in the opener and things came alive. He said the first few hits in the fourth inning Friday sent another charge through the lineup and gave everyone confidence.
"We are a real tight-knit group," Payne said. "We hang out together on weekends, and everybody is always cool with each other, so we feed off each other. It is good and bad. Sometimes if one person messes up we start getting mad at each other and we need to pick each other up. Once Will (Golsan) gets that first hit, it is like automatic we are going to get a run in that first inning."
Golsan has delivered in the lead-off spot all season. He added two more hits, including a double, to his ledger Friday. Taylor Stafford (three hits, two doubles, three RBIs), Payne (two hits, RBI), Rooke Coleman (three hits, RBI), Payton Lane (single, RBI), Redden (single, two runs scored), and Austin Oswalt (three hits, two RBIs) all had hits in the 15-hit onslaught.
"Apparently I did wake the bats up. I don't know," Boyd said. "That was a big, explosive inning, and we have hit the ball well the past two games. I am really proud of our guys. It has been nice to win two in a row after the last three weeks of the season."
The offense the past two games was a welcome sight considering Boyd said the team struggled at the end of the regular season. New Hope lost to Northridge (Ala.) 13-4 on April 17, lost to Columbus 7-6 on April 20, beat Grenada 9-7 in eight innings on April 22, and lost to Amory 8-1 on April 23. The Trojans only had four hits in the final game, a string necessitated by a wave of rain and cold weather earlier in the season. The stretch tested the team's pitching depth and its resolve, but Boyd feels New Hope is back in a good spot after closing out its first series in 10 1/2 innings. He answered with an immediate "No" when asked if his squad has played its best baseball.
"I feel like if we ever put that together we are going to be tough," Boyd said. "We are 19-7, and in the first half of the season we had some really good games and played some good competition, so I am not trying to say we haven't played well. I just don't feel like we can play as good as we can. That is encouraging for us going into the next couple of rounds to know we have a shot. We hit really well this weekend, so I am really pleased with that."
Payne also feels the Trojans' best is ahead of them. The senior right-hander hitter struggled early in the season and was moved down from his usual spot in the middle of the order. A walk-off grand slam on March 9 in a 7-5 victory against Kosciusko in Columbus helped him get on track. It was part of a six-RBI night that helped relieve the pressure and allowed him to relax at the plate. With one hit Thursday and two more Friday, Payne showed he is ready to keep his bat hot, as are his teammates.
"These past two nights we have played real good as far as pitching, defense, and hitting," Payne said. "I think we are starting to get there, but we haven't clicked and got hot yet."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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