Toppers moving on to second round
Houston boys face Amory this week
By Lisa Voyles
HOUSTON – The Hilltoppers made short work of the Yazoo County Panthers in their opening round of playoffs last week, taking the series in two games.
The Toppers got their game going in the bottom of the third as Austin Burdine sent a shot up to first and a Yazoo error put him safely on the bag and Quon Brand’s single moved him over. Blake Johns reached on a bunt and loaded the bases and Kyle Wilson sent a shot past second to score Burdine and Brand. Garrison Howell doubled off a Yazoo error and scored Johns although Wilson was a casualty in a tag at third and Howell was stranded on second, but the Toppers took a 3-0 advantage at the close of the inning.
Going into the top of the third, Wilson struck out Yazoo’s Michael Collum and Howell made a stop on Robert Hudson’s hit for an out to Reid Carter at first. Tyler Goeroge singled, but Johns ended the inning with Peyton Ellzey’s fly foul in his glove off the third base line.
The Panthers made a move in the top of the fourth with Cailton Shaffer leading off with a double and scoring on Jamarion Sallis’ ground out and scored again in the top of the fifth to draw closer at 3-2.
But the Toppers reignited their fire in the bottom of the frame as Peyton Callahan doubled and Kody Kimbrough got a two RBI homer to advance the Toppers to 5-2.
In the top of the sixth, Johns made a sliding catch in the outfield for the third out to get the Toppers out of a bases-loaded jam and the Houston boys put the icing on the cake in the bottom of the frame as Brand walked and Johns singled with help from a Yazoo eror at first, moving Brand to third. Sharone Wright’s sac fly scored Brand and Wildon’s sac bunt scored Johns to put the Toppers up 7-2.
Wright came in to close on the mound, strking out two runners and Burdine snagged the fly in centerfield for the win.
The Toppers headed to the Delta Saturday and shut out the Panthers, 11-0, to take the series and head into round two.
The Houston boys will face the Amory Panthers this week in the quarterfinal game and Coach Scott Gann said they will need to be on thier toes against the tough Amory squad. The Toppers took a 5-3 win over the Panthers in the Saltillo tournament earlier this year, but Gann expects a stronger adversary this time around.
“We expect to see a little different team than we did over spring break,” Gann said. “We anticipate a much tougheer team this weekend. They have a few kids at the top of their order that are going to swing as well as we’ve seen all year. Their pitching staff is really solid, their catcher is just solid behind the plate as well.”
Gann said the Toppers will need to hit every point in the fundamental handbook and stay sharp.
“We are going to have to dominate the routine plays and make a few extra defensive stopes, get some timely hitting and have a little luck to be successful in this series,” Gann said. “Coach Williams is an excellent basweball mind and has a coaching staff to add to their program, so we will ahve to execute exceptionally well this weekend.”
Gann said he hopes the Topper fans will make the trip to Amory for Game One Thursday and will come out to the home field to support the team Friday in Game Two.
“We need everyone behind us from here on out,” Gann said.