SUMRALL – Sumrall put 14 men on base against St. Andrew’s Thursday in Game 1 of the Class 3A South State finals.
Eleven of those 14 got as far as second or third base.
Only two of those 11 scored.
Conversely, St. Andrew’s had 15 men reach base. But the Saints only stranded half as many runners, and picked up the 8-2 victory in the process.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for 7 p.m. today at St. Andrew’s.
“We just didn’t get the hits (with runners in scoring position),” Sumrall head coach Larry Knight said. “(If) we get a hit there, and put some pressure on (St. Andrew’s), then the game changes.”
Knight was referring to the second inning, when his Bobcats loaded the bases with two outs but only came away with one run to show for it.
But the Sumrall skipper also found several other things that didn’t go his squad’s way that also took a toll.
With the Bobcats (21-11) leading 2-1 in the top of the fifth, Bennie Kirkland doubled to lead off the inning for the Saints. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a wild pitch. Connor Woodall followed with a single and moved to second base on a balk by Sumrall starting pitcher Chandler Massengale.
Massengale had attempted several pickoffs to first base through the first four innings, and Knight said the left-hander didn’t do anything different when the balk was called.
“It’s the same move all night long,” Knight said. “That was big. That hurt us.”
After giving up another single that put runners on first and third, Massengale was relieved by Drake Pace, who hit the first two batters he faced, resulting in a 3-2 St. Andrew’s lead.
Daniel Gallarno followed with a bases-clearing double that blew the game open for the Saints (21-13).
“We finally got a few breaks,” St. Andrew’s head coach Mark Fanning said. “(Pace) lost the strike zone a little there, and we made their guys work. We were able to get some guys on base without hitting the ball very much. I can’t think of that many great hits we had tonight, but when we had a chance, we cashed in on it.”
St. Andrew’s starting pitcher William Rowell did the rest. He threw 6 1/3 innings and struck out five. But Rowell made pitches when he needed to, limiting Sumrall’s opportunities.
“To me, I think we hit some balls hard, (but) right at ’em,” Knight said. “That fastball up, at times, we were chasing, and I think that hurt us.
“I just think he competed, and then of course, getting that cushion and that big lead, it makes it a whole lot easier to pitch in those situations.”
Joseph McLaurin’s RBI single in the second, and Trace Jordan’s run-scoring groundout in the fourth inning stood as the Bobcats’ offensive highlights.
Landon White had a single and a double in four at-bats, and Alex Knight notched a pair of singles for Sumrall.