Trailing 8-0 in the deciding game on the road, Copiah Academy’s baseball team could have quit last Friday. Instead, they rallied for 13 runs in the top of the fourth and went on to beat Heritage Academy 23-17 in Columbus. As a result, the Colonels (19-15) will play the Oak Forest Jackets this week in a best-of-three series for the MAIS AAA Division II State Championship. Game one took place Tuesday in Gallman, while games 2 and 3 (if necessary) are scheduled at Oak Forest on Thursday.
On Wednesday of last week, the Copiah Academy Colonels hit 5 home runs and erupted for 7 runs in the bottom of the sixth as they outslugged the Heritage Academy Patriots 15-8 in Gallman in the first game of their 3-game playoff series.
CA used the long ball to build an early lead. Casey Hurley blasted a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first, Dennis Harper hit the first of his 2 solo home runs in the second, Colton Brown lined an opposite field HR in the third, and Harper connected for his second HR in the fourth.
Leading 5-4, Copiah jumped on Patriots pitchers for 3 runs in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to Hurley’s RBI-single and Harper’s 2-run double. Heritage tied the score 8-8 with 4 runs in the top of the sixth.
But the Colonels broke the game open in the bottom of the inning, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring 7 runs on 4 hits with two outs. Mitch Little’s 2-run homer to left put CA ahead 10-8. Five more runs scored on Latham Pyron’s 2-run bases-loaded double, a 2-run error by the Patriots, and Peyton Whitehead’s RBI-single to left. Hurley and Trevor Blocker also had singles during the inning.
Harper led Copiah with his pair of homers and a double. Hurley also had 3 hits, including his first-inning HR. Whitehead (2-2) was the winning pitcher in relief and helped his own cause with a pair of singles. Pyron also had two hits, including his sixth-inning double.
On Friday, the Patriots scored 6 runs in the first two innings enroute to a 10-4 win over CA in Columbus, evening the series 1-1. Michael Bagley (2-1) absorbed the loss. Mitch Little had a pair of doubles for the Colonels, while Dennis Harper singled and doubled, and Colton Brown singled twice. Jeremy Newman hit a 2-run home run for CA in the top of the sixth, and teammate Latham Pyron contributed a double in a losing effort.
In the rubber game of the series, Copiah batters hammered out 20 hits and scored 23 runs over the final 4 innings to win 23-17. The victory went to Peyton Whitehead (3-2) in relief as his teammates overcame 7 errors.
Casey Hurley had 4 hits for the winners, including a pair of homers, one a grand slam in the top of the sixth. Colton Brown also had 4 hits, including a solo HR leading off the fourth. In addition, Michael Bagley and Jeremy Newman each had 3 hits for the Colonels, while teammate Dennis Harper had a single and double, and Latham Pyron a pair of singles. Trevor Blocker homered in the big fourth inning, and Whitehead added a double.
“I feel a lot better now,” Copiah head coach Scooter Prince said afterwards. “We’ve gotten hot at the right time. Now if we can just stay hot for two more games.”
His Colonels are in the state championship series for the third straight year. They now face Oak Forest, a team they swept earlier this season. However, the Jackets have improved dramatically since then, recently sweeping a 3-game series from the Jackson Prep Patriots.
“Our guys have a lot of heart,” Prince said in summing up his team’s chances. “They don’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’”