CLINTON — Silliman Institute’s baseball team needed an extra inning and a dramatic three-run home run to secure a 5-2 victory in Wednesday’s first playoff game against Cathedral High.
It left little doubt which team was going to win the second game in the best-of-three series after the homestanding Wildcats erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 12-1 victory. The game was called due to the 10-run rule in the fifth inning, giving Silliman the Class 3A Mississippi Association of Independent Schools championship.
Coupled with last season’s title in Class 2A, coach John Beauchamp’s squad secured back-to-back championships for the first time and earned its fourth overall (including 2000 and 2002).
Wednesday’s championship was clinched when senior right fielder Tyler Lejeune belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and the team, coaches and fans mobbed him as he touched home plate.
“We came out here with the pressure on us, and we were trying to be relaxed, but still play with a sense of urgency,” said Beauchamp, whose team finished 24-9. “We had to scratch and claw for everything in the first game, but in the second game, we finally swung the bat.”
Cathedral took a 1-0 lead in the series with a 4-2 win in Natchez, Mississippi, on Monday.
But in the first game Wednesday, rian Siebert belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Wildcats Game 2 in the series. Silliman jumped out to a 2-0 lead after three innings when Siebert score on a balk after reaching on a single in the second inning and center fielder Zach Kelly belted a solo homer in the third.
Cathedral rallied with two runs in the sixth inning. Andrew Beesley and Craig Bradley scored on an errant throw to tie the game at 3, but the Green Wave stranded two base runners. After the a scoreless top of the eighth inning, Kelly started things in the bottom of the inning when he reached on a fielder’s choice. Michael Davidson followed with a single.
Freshman starter Beau Lockhart pitched six innings, giving up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Odom Stagg pitched two scoreless innings and picked up the win in relief.
In the second game, Stagg held the visitors to one run through five innings and just three hits while his team belted out 14 hits, including five for extra bases. After the seven-run first inning, the Wildcats added two in the second, one in the fourth and four in the fifth.
“It was a good series. I give them credit they came in today ready to play,” said Green Wave coach Craig Beesley, whose squad finished 25-5. “Their pitchers did a good job of keeping the ball away from us and we could get any runs or momentum going. You can’t win a doubleheader scoring only three times.”