Make no mistake about it, football is Devontea Watts’ favorite sport.
But on Friday, the Sumrall receiver showed that he can be pretty nifty on the pitcher’s mound as well.
Watts replaced Sumrall starter Will Simon in the first and kept St. Andrew’s in check until his team’s bats finally came around.
When the bats finally did awaken, Sumrall left with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory in eight innings at Barkett-Cummings Field.
Sumrall (22-11) tied the best-of-three Class 3A semifinal series 1-1.
Decisive Game 3 is tonight at Sumrall at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship series next week at Trustmark Park in Pearl to play the winner of the Independence-Kossuth series.
“The whole story tonight is Devontea Watts,” said Sumrall coach Larry Knight. “He beat Petal last year and has pitched in some big games. We were hoping if Will got through tonight, we could use Devontea tomorrow. But there was no tomorrow.”
Well, now there is, thanks to Watts’ arm and a sixth inning rally by the Bobcats, who trailed 4-0 after five.
Will Simon delivered the big hit in the sixth. His 3-run double, which followed an RBI single by Landon White, tied it 4-4.
Two innings later, White belted an RBI double that proved to be the game-winner.
Knight tossed Watts the game ball after the game and the Sumrall faithful chanted “Devontea” shortly after that. He more than deserved it after scattering four hits and striking out seven.
“My arm hadn’t felt like that in a while,” said Watts, a Pearl River CC football signee who caught for over 1,000 yards last fall. “Coach Knight told me he had 100 percent confidence in me and I took that and went with it.”
Early on, it was St. Andrew’s pitcher Daniel Gallarno who looked to be the game’s star. After walking the first batter, he retired 12 straight and took a no-hitter into the fifth.
Alex Knight, the coach’s son, broke up Gallarno’s no-hitter with a single up in the middle in the fifth.
St. Andrew’s (21-14) was in control at that point, having raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. The first run came on a heady base-running play by leadoff batter Connor Woodall. Woodall, standing on third, sprinted home when Sumrall catcher Stephen Newell tried to throw Daniel Briner out on a passed ball on a strikeout. The Saints added three more runs on a passed ball, a balk and Baylor Obert’s RBI single. But Watts came in and shut the Saints down.
“It’s never easy,” said St. Andrew’s coach Mark Fanning. “We knew they were going to take a shot at us. We put four up in the first and then went seven straight innings without scoring. We didn’t hit, but Watts was the reason we didn’t hit. He always had the answer.”