May 17, 2019 10:31:50 AM
PEARL -- New Hope battled back from a 7-2 deficit to defeat Sumrall 8-7 Thursday in the opening game of the best-of-three series for the Mississippi High School Athletics Association Class 4A state championship.
The Trojans pulled within one with a run in the fifth and three in the sixth, then won it with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
"All I can say is the Good Lord looked out for us and we battled hard," said New Hope coach Lee Boyd.
New Hope (26-5) will go for the sweep in Game 2 at 7 tonight.A third game, if necessary, will played Saturday. All games are being played at Trustmark Park.
Trailing 7-6, the Trojans staged their dramatic seventh-inning rally when Payton Springfield led off the inning with a single, followed by a Ryan Burt smash high off the right field fence that almost left the park for a game-winning home run. Boyd said he thought it was a homer.
"It would have been out at any ballpark in America except this one," he added.
Instead, Burt settled for a double with Springfiled moving to third.
New Hope tied the score with an infield hit by Stollone Shelton that scored Springfield, then won it when designated hitter Presley Hall bounced a single over first base. It was his first walk-off hit of the season.
"I was trying to go the other way," the right-handed batter said. "I just want to get the run in."
It was Hall's second big hit of the game. He had a two-run triple one inning earlier to cut the deficit to 7-5, then scored on a two-out single by Hays Lumsden.
The rally came against Sumrall (32-7) relief ace John Cody Stegner, who gave up four runs on seven hits in one inning of work after having allowed only one earned run in 42 innings entering the game.
"He has a good arm. I saw him pitch last week," Boyd said of Stogner, a right-handed submariner.
Sumrall scored one run in the third, five in the fourth and one in the fifth, all coming with two outs. Springfield, New Hope's starter, breezed through the first two innings, retiring six straight. But he struggled with his command after that, allowing seven runs on eight hits, with three walks and two hit batters before being relieved by Rye McGlothin with two outs in the fifth.
McGlothin and Jonathan Whittington combined for 2.1 innings of shutout relief, with Whittington picking up the win for a scoreless seventh.
New Hope's first two runs came on a bases-loaded single by Whittington in the second. The Trojans added a fifth inning run on a double by Lumsden and a single by Springfield.
Boyd said Burt will probably get the start tonight.
New Hope swept Gentry, Caledonia, Amory and Pontotoc to reach the championship series. The Trojans received a trophy as North State champion prior to Thursday's game.
Sumrall reached the championship series by scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh for a 7-6 victory over West Lauderdale in the decisive game of the South State final. The Bobcats also had to go three games to defeat Pass Christian and St. Stanislavsky and swept Northeast Jones.
The series is a matchup of two of the state's most successful programs. New Hope has won seven championships, the most of the 12 teams still playing, and Sumrall has five titles in the last 10 years, all in Class 3A.