PEARL – Offense was at a premium in the first two games of the MHSAA Class 2A championship series.
Taylorsville evened the series with East Webster on Thursday when it pulled out a 3-2 win in Game 2 with only one hit.
But the Wolverines took care of business early in the deciding Game 3 on Saturday. John Wofford Williams and Luke Wilson each had three hits, and East Webster scored six runs in both the second and fifth innings to beat Taylorsville, 12-2, in five innings at Trustmark Park to win their first title since 2008.
The championship was also the school’s sixth title this school year, including slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball, girls basketball, tennis and cheerleading.
“We knew (Thursday) we didn’t get the job done getting our RBIs in,” said Wilson. “We knew we had to do that (Saturday), and that’s what we tried to do. We just had a better plan (Saturday) when we went up to the plate, and we just knew what we were going to try to do and we did it.”
An inside-the-park home run won Game 2 for Taylorsville on Thursday as the Wolverines (31-5) had four hits in the game. But after going down in order in the first inning on Saturday, they plated six runs in the second and chased Tartars starter Andrew Pankratz after the first five batters of the inning reached base.
Dillan Silver had a two-run single and Jack Wilson had an infield single in the inning as the Wolverines took a commanding 6-0 lead. They had the Tartars on their heels being aggressive on the base paths.
“That’s the way we play,” said East Webster coach Wes Johnson. “We’ll bunt it and run and put pressure on the defense. We won 31 games like that this year.”
Taylorsville (28-11-1) never threatened offensively until the fourth inning when they scored two runs on Anfernee Sullivan’s RBI single and a Zurick McGill sacrifice fly to foul territory in left field.
The Tartars stranded two in the inning and were sent down in order in the fifth to end the game.
“We felt like they made every opportunity they got count, and we never made good of ours,” said Taylorsville coach Dusty Hillman. “We had one inning that kind of got us back in the game, then the wheels fell off the next inning. When you give up two six-run innings, it’s hard to win like that. But you’ve got to give them credit. They made it happen, and they outplayed us all the way around today.”
East Webster put the game away in the top of the fifth as Taylorsville used three different pitchers. Tucker Boykin pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief while Ashton White, the Game 1 starter, faced seven batters and got one out. Austin Moffett faced two batters, issuing a bases-loaded walk before inducing a flyout to end the inning.
Silver drove in one run by getting hit with a pitch; courtesy runner J.T. Slay scored on a fielder’s choice and error; and Derek Jones had a two-run single to center field before an error and walk scored the final two runs.
East Webster’s Cody Boland started Game 1 and came back to pitch the decisive game. He pitched all five innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
“Whenever Coach Johnson took me out that game, he told me he was saving me for the last game if we needed it,” Boland said. “I just had to take a different approach (Saturday). I couldn’t focus on just trying to go get it myself. I had to rely on my defense, and I know we got the best 2A defense in the state. So that’s pretty good confidence.”
Jack Wilson had a pair of hits for the Wolverines, and Cade Shurden and Luke Wilson each had a double. Boykin had two hits, including a double, for the Tartars.
East Webster kept Taylorsville from winning its third consecutive title, and with only three seniors, Luke Wilson hopes this is just the beginning for the Wolverines.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s my first one, and a bunch of these kids’ first one. We’re all young, and we’re hoping to do it again.”
Johnson said it’s the perfect finish to the baseball season and the school year.
“I’m proud for the kids,” he said. “Boy, it’s been a long season. Been through a lot. It seems like forever ago when we started, but these guys came down and persevered, and boy, what a way to finish that thing out.
“It’s really like going to school and working with a big family. Everybody pulls for everybody. We’ve won so many state championships. … How exciting for our community. Probably the best year we’ve had school-wise ever.”
Contact Chris Whitaker at cwwhitaker@
jackson.gannett.com. Follow @ChrisWhitaker79 on Twitter.