Sumrall stuns No. 1 Petal in first game of baseball season
March 9, 2012Sumrall High School
PETAL – High school baseball fans around the state might want to hold off on those obituaries for the Sumrall baseball team.
Despite an entirely new cast of players on the field, the Bobcats still showed they aren’t going to roll over and play dead as the knocked off Petal 5-1 Friday in the Petal Classic at Panther Field.
“I knew after the first pitch that I had it,” said junior left-hander Chandler Massengale. “With all the doubt coming into the season, this gives us a lot of confidence to prove everyone wrong.”
The 2012 season opener for both teams couldn’t have gone better for Sumrall.
“My outside fastball was definitely working,” said Massengale. “With my size and strength, I defininitely have to keep it low.”
The Bobcats also made some key plays in the field to blunt the Panthers’ offense, and took full advantage of nine walks by three Petal pitchers.
“I can’t remember the last time we had that many walks,” said Petal coach Larry Watkins.
“That was the difference. Their guy threw strikes and ours didn’t. Sumrall’s a scrappy team. We gave them some opportunities and they took advantage of them.”
Massengale and Panther starter Larson Barkurn matched each other through the first two innings, but the Bobcats pushed across a run in the top of the third inning.
Zach Jones drew a leadoff walk, took second on a hit-and-run groundout that prevented a double play and scored on a single by Will Simon.
Petal tied it in the fourth when Anthony Alford singled to lead off, took second on an infield single by Barkurn and scored on a double by Garron Berry.
Two runs should have scored, but courtesy runner Slade Buckley tripped over the bag while rounding third and he had to hold there.
Two pitches later, Buckley was out when a suicide squeeze play failed, and Massengale got out of the jam with a strikeout.
“He did a great job,” said Sumrall coach Larry Knight. “He’s going to be one of our top guys this year. Even though this was his first varsity start, he was our main guy on JV last year.
“When you’re a lefty who throws strikes, you’re usually going to be successful.”
But it was the Bobcats’ only returning starter, left fielder Jones, who made two plays that sealed the deal for Sumrall.
In the bottom of the fifth, Massengale hit the leadoff batter, Jesse Jackson, who was sacrificed to second.
On a 1-0 pitch, Trevor Williams sent a rocket shot that appeared headed for the gap in left-center field, but Jones raced to his left and made the catch to stifle the rally.
“I was going off instinct,” Jones said of his big catch. “Thankfully, I got a good jump on it.”
And in the top of the sixth, Jones blooped a double three inches inside the left-field line to drive in two runs, the key blow in a four-run rally.
“I was really looking to go the other way with the pitch,” said Jones. “But I kind of stumbled on my front side, so I just decided to stride right with it that way. I couldn’t have placed it any better.”
Sumrall will be back in action at Petal at noon today against Forrest County AHS. The Aggies and the Panthers will square off at 2:30 p.m. in the final game of the classic.