PEARL — There will be a Game 3.
DeSoto Central used two big innings along with the pitching of Mississippi State signee Brock Tapper and the Jaguars got past Northwest Rankin 11-3 in Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 6A Baseball State Championship series on Saturday night at Trustmark Park to even the series.
The decisive Game 3 will be Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Everything we talk about is responding. Not just today, it started back in August. It was a situation we’ve dealt with throughout the year and the guys responded to live for another day,” said DeSoto Central coach Mark Monaghan. “Brock Tapper pitched his tail off and we got big hits when we needed them and an all-around great ball game.”
DeSoto Central scored four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Musselwhite, an RBI single to right by Josh King, Kristian Sprawling was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Colton Coates also had a sacrifice fly.
Northwest Rankin cut the lead in half to 4-2 in the top of the third as Southern Miss signee Nick Monistere hit a two-run triple to left.
The Cougars cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth on an RBI single to center by Christian Cameron. Northwest Rankin had runners on second and third base with no outs, but Tapper struck out three consecutive batters to end the inning.
“They got the run that scored and then Tyler Pearson came up to me and said for me to be a dog. After the first one the catcher did a fist pump ‘two more’ and after last strikeout the dugout erupted and that was the best feeling,” Tapper said. “The fastball command was working really well. I like to stick to my fastball and everything work off of that.”
DeSoto Central erupted for seven runs on just four hits in the bottom of the sixth and also sent 12 batters to the plate. Tyler Pearson and Tapper each had a RBI single, Ryan Musselwhite had a two-run double in the inning.
Tapper (8-1) lasted six innings giving up seven hits, three runs, walked one and struck out 11.
“Will is a real thing and Tapper is prepared in a way that puts him in a position to do that and he executed,” Monaghan said. “We just wanted to stay poised and make good swings and slow the game down.”
Musselwhite had two hits to lead the Jaguars (22-11).
Connor Brooks (8-2) took the loss on the mound for Northwest Rankin allowing four earned runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Brice Ainsworth had two hits for the Cougars (33-3). It’s undetermined who Northwest Rankin will start tomorrow.
“You just tip your hat to him to get out of that situation,” said Northwest Rankin coach K.K. Aldridge. “We missed some opportunities and in a game like this you have to come through and they got the big hits.”