Yellow Jackets drop Colonels in state title series
After beating Oak Forest at Gallman in the first of a 3-game series, Copiah Academy dropped a doubleheader in Amite, Louisiana, as the Yellow Jackets won the MAIS AAA Division II state championship last week.
On Tuesday, the Colonels jumped out to a 6-0 lead after 3 innings and held on for a 10-7 win in Gallman. CA scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first on Mitch Little’s 2-run homer, Casey Hurley’s double to left center, and Dennis Harper’s RBI-single. Colton Brown and Trevor Blocker also singled during the inning.
In the second, Copiah scored 2 more runs on RBI-singles by Brown and Harper, and then added an unearned run in the third on an Oak Forest error, a wild pitch, a hit batsman, and a fielder’s choice.
Oak Forest struck for 3 runs in the top of the fourth, but the Colonels responded with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the inning on Harper’s towering 2-run HR into the pine trees beyond the left-field fence. The Jackets narrowed the deficit to 8-6 with 3 more runs in the top of the fifth, but CA’s Michael Bagley gave his team some insurance runs with a 2-run home run to right in the bottom of the sixth.
After Oak Forest’s Breman Kelsey reached on an error to lead off the seventh, Trevor Blocker came on in relief and held the Jackets to one run, thanks to a diving stop by shortstop Mitch Little that led to a force out at second.
Brown led the Colonel attack with 4 hits, including a double. Harper had 3 hits, including a double and homer, and drove in 4 runs for the winners, while Little contributed a single and double, and Bagley a home run. Hurley (6-3) was the winning pitcher.
Doubleheader at Oak Forest
Two days later, Copiah journeyed to Oak Forest to defend last year’s state championship. Things got off to a good start for the Colonels as Peyton Whitehead led off with a triple and scored on Casey Hurley’s RBI-single to give his team a 1-0 lead.
After the Jackets tied the score, CA took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on Michael Bagley’s RBI-double. The Colonels scored 3 runs in the third and led 5-1 until Oak Forest closed the gap to 5-3 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth.
An inning later, the Jackets jumped ahead 6-5 on back-to-back homers by Drew Misita and Chris Gill.
Copiah tied the score 6-6 in the top of the sixth on Colton Brown’s two-out, RBI-double. Oak Forest regained the lead with 4 runs in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of 2-run home runs by James Peterson and Blake Carter, respectively.
However, the Colonels rallied for 4 runs of their own in the top of the seventh to knot things up 10-10. Key hits included a one-out single by Dennis Harper, a double by Latham Pyron, a two-run double by Bagley, and a two-run single by Brown. Not to be outdone, the Jackets’ Austin Lee hit a three-run walk-off homer off Casey Hurley (6-4) in the bottom of the inning for a dramatic 13-10 victory that evened the series 1-1, forcing a third and deciding game.
Pyron and starting pitcher Michael Bagley each had a pair of doubles for Copiah; Bagley also had 4 RBI’s in a losing effort. In addition, Whitehead had a triple and a single, while teammate Brown added a double and single.
With both teams’ pitching rotation depleted, Oak Forest jumped ahead in the second game of the doubleheader with 6 runs in the bottom of the second. The Jackets added 2 more runs in the third, and then broke the game open with 7 runs in the fourth for a 15-0 lead. CA scored its lone run in the fifth on Jeremy Newman’s leadoff single, an error, and a fielder’s choice.
Peyton Whitehead was the only Copiah player with multiple hits, and Mitch Little had the only extra-base hit, a two-out double in the top of the first. Sophomore starting pitcher Ty Higginbotham (4-3) was the losing pitcher.
“Not too many people gave us much of a chance this year,” CA head coach Scooter Prince said afterwards, “especially losing as many players as we did off last year’s team. But the guys played hard and bought into what we’re trying to do here. We just ran out of gas in the final game.”
Prince praised assistant coach Terry Bauer and also mentioned 3 seniors who’ve played for him during his 4 years at Copiah: Trevor Blocker, Mitch Little, and Jeremy Newman. “They’ve compiled a 93-44 record during that time,” he noted, and helped us reach the state finals each of the last 3 years.” Other seniors on this year’s squad included Colton Brown, Dennis Harper, and Casey Hurley.
“You can’t hang your head,” the coach told his players after the final game. “We beat them (Oak Forest) 4 out of 6 games this year. It’s hard to beat a team every time.”
Copiah finished the season with a 20-17 record, marking the third straight year the Colonels have won 20 or more games. “Our goal is to play for a state championship every year,” Prince concluded. “We’ll take a week or two off and then start getting ready for next year.”