Petal shut out by Harrison Central

Petal shut out by Harrison Central

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Petal shut out by Harrison Central

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Petal shortstop Zach Giacona fields the ball as Harrison Central’s Austin Johnson puts on the brakes in Thursday’s game at Panther Field in Petal.

Petal shortstop Zach Giacona fields the ball as Harrison Central’s Austin Johnson puts on the brakes in Thursday’s game at Panther Field in Petal.

When it comes right down to it, baseball is a simple game; if you don’t get runners on base, you don’t score, and if you don’t score, you don’t win.

That was pretty much the story for Petal Thursday night against Harrison Central in game two of the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

Red Rebel senior right-hander Mason Sullivan silenced the Panthers on just two hits in a 3-0 victory that evened the best-of-three series.

“That’s baseball,” said Petal coach Larry Watkins. “I really don’t know why we weren’t hitting him. But we get another shot (today), so we have to forget about this and come back ready to play.”

The deciding game will be played at 6 p.m. today at Lyman, where Petal (20-9) won game 1 on Wednesday 8-3. Harrison Central improved to 17-8.

“He just threw strikes; that’s all you have to do,” said Petal senior right fielder Peyton Swilley, who had one of the Panthers’ two hits. “He ‘d set you up with the fastball early in the count, then he’d bring in the curveball and sometimes it just froze us up.”

Petal only got baserunners in one inning, the fourth, after Sullivan had retired the Panthers in order the first three innings.

Blake Newsome singled up the middle, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. Zach Giacona walked and Swilley singled to put two runners on, however, Sullivan struck out Tanner Estill looking to end the inning.

Sullivan (6-1) then brushed aside the Panthers in order in the last three innings. He finished with seven strikeouts for the game.

“We didn’t hit well enough to win,” Watkins said. “It’s kind of frustrating, but that’s the way baseball is.”

The Red Rebels scored all the runs they would need in the top of the first inning.

Leadoff batter Ian Colon dragged a running bunt that Panther pitcher Tristan Labove fielder got to, but then threw wide of first base, allowing Colon to reach second.

One out later, Brandon Barna stroked an opposite-field single to right and Colon scored just under the throw to the plate from Swilley.

“My stuff as pretty good,” said Labove. “They got lucky on a few of those hits, like that swinging bunt the guy had. But I made an error on the throw, so I blame myself for that.

“I rushed it. I probably shouldn’t have thrown it in the first place. But I think we’re going to hit better (today).”

Labove (5-2) pitched six innings, allowed eight hits, struck out five and walked three.

Harrison Central added two more runs in the seventh off reliever Bryce Fagan, getting a two-run double by Dillon Morgan to give Sullivan some cushion.

“We’ve got to just flush this and keep the right mindset for (today),” said Swilley. “We’ve got to keep winning before we lose two in row.”

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