Franklin Road Academy’s baseball state championship hopes were dashed by Evangelical’s Brent Rooker.
The Mississippi State signee clubbed three home runs and drove in six to lead ECS to a 13-7 win on Wednesday, eliminating the Panthers.
ECS will play Harding Academy for the Division II-A championship on Thursday at 10 a.m. at MTSU.
“They just out hit us — that’s the bottom line,” FRA coach George Weicker said. “Everybody is low on pitching at this point, so we’re all in the same boat. They just did a really good job of putting the ball in play.”
The Eagles scored at least two runs in each of the first five innings, setting a pace that the Panthers could not keep up with.
FRA came back to tie the game from a three-run deficit in the third and a two-run deficit in the fourth, but a five-run fifth inning from the Eagles was not answered.
“I told the guys when you get in the losers bracket you’ve got to up the offense a little bit,” ECS coach Ryan Porter said. “Because that’s usually how you get back to having a chance with the pitching depleted a little bit.”
Rooker, a senior who will be competing in his third state championship of the athletic year (football and basketball), homered also in the Eagles’ 6-4 win over FRA in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday.
“I’m seeing the ball as well as I have all season at this tournament,” Rooker said. “I’m just really fortunate that I have worked out the kinks in my swing and found my stroke at the right time.”
Panthers senior shortstop Joe Mattson reached base four times and scored two runs. Murphy Chambliss, Wynne Tansil and Dalton Ney also had multi-hit games for FRA.
“It was the second time in our school’s history that we’ve have 30 wins (in a season),” Weicker said. “That’s all we could have done right there — I thought we threw it all out there.”
FRA 2, Jackson Chr. 0: Matt Hissong entered Wednesday’s elimination game undefeated on the year. He left it just the same.
Hissong (11-0), a South Carolina-Aiken signee, threw his seventh shutout of the year while giving up six hits and striking out 11.
“It was good to come out and start throwing strikes early to have short innings and get in and out,” said Hissong, who at one point sat down 10 straight Eagle batters.
Hissong helped himself out with an RBI double in the fourth, and Wyatt Maxwell added a sacrifice fly to score Joe Mattson in the sixth, but Hissong.
“We feel like any time he’s standing on the mound out there we’ve got a great chance of winning,” Weicker said. “We give him one, we give him two we should be in good shape, and that’s what we did.”
Jackson Christian’s Ethan Mayberry (7-4) also threw a complete game, while giving up two runs, only one of them earned and striking out six Panthers.
“We had a lot of guys in scoring position; we just couldn’t get that one big hit,” Jackson Christian coach Chuck Cooper said.