Vancleave’s West shuts down Lafayette, forcing a deciding game three in 5A title series

Published 10:20 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

By Jake Thompson
PEARL Lafayette is going to have to keep the celebrations at bay for one more night as a bid for the school’s first baseball state title in 18 years has to wait.
After outlasting Vancleave in game one of the MHSAA Class 5A title series with a 8-7 win in 12 innings on Wednesday things were a different story in Friday’s game two at Trustmark Park with the Bulldogs winning a 2-1 pitchers duel.
A winner-take-all deciding game three will be played on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Commodores were looking for a sweep but Bulldog starter Tyler West had other ideas, throwing a complete game and needing 114 pitches in seven innings to do so. West racked up 11 strikeouts against Commodore batters and stifled the offense all night.
“Anytime you look at hitters and they’re taking strikes and swinging at balls you know that guy’s pretty good,” Lafayette head coach John Walker said. “He was good and they did enough in the first inning to make it hold up.
“That type of stuff is what we talk about all the time. Any time you face a good arm you got to have a really good approach and we didn’t tonight. We didn’t really didn’t put together any great at-bats.”
Lafayette sent Tanner Harris to the mound and he also delivered a gem, but only after Vancleave managed to get a pair of runs off him in the top of the first inning. Harris also recorded a complete game, giving up the two runs off four hits and striking out four Bulldog batters.
After the first inning Harris threw six shutout frames, but the Commodore offense could not provide any run support. In the fourth fifth and sixth innings the ‘Dores got a hit with two outs, including a triple by third baseman Brody Breithaupt in the fifth that served as the tying run in scoring position but designated hitter Connor Counts struck out to strand him.
“You got to be able to do something. We struck out, a lot, in opportunities when we could have moved a guy or got a guy in,” Walker said. “The strike out after Brody’s triple, we got a guy at the plate that’s really, really good. Our leading hitter. We got all the confidence in the world in Connor Counts and he had a bad at-bat.
The Commodores lone run came in the bottom of the second inning off a RBI-single from first baseman Foster Crockett to score right fielder Jack Wyatt East. From there it was all zeroes for Lafayette.
Saturday provides the final game of the season and for the Commodores a night of strategy when it comes to a game plan for game three against the Bulldogs. Walker was not sure who would get the start as of Friday night.
“See what kind of lineup we put together (on Saturday). We’ve prepared for this but we haven’t planned for this,” Walker said. “So, we’re not real sure where we’ll go on the mound.”

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