GLUCKSTADT — Top-ranked Madison Central is getting a ton of national attention right now, but there’s another 6A baseball school right up the road that could turn heads in the post-season this year.
The Germantown Mavericks clinched the top seed in Region 3-6A with a come-from-behind, 8-6 win over South Panola Thursday night. The win was the Mavericks’ 14th in a row since a 16-0 loss to the Jaguars back on March 12.
The Mavericks (18-3, 8-0 in 3-6A) fell behind 4-0 in the second inning when starting pitcher Cooper Williams ran into trouble with a couple of walks. South Panola picked up a run on a fielding error, then Tigers cleanup hitter Jon Blockmon drew a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch before cleanup hitter Dre Moore busted the game open with a 2-RBI single.
“At this level, you have to expect the other team to put up a big inning against you at some point,” Germantown coach Brian Hardy said. “If you are going to be a very good team, you have to match those big innings. I told our guys after that second inning, I said ‘That’s their big inning.’ We didn’t have to get it all back in one inning, but we needed to scratch our way back in it, and we did. Then we got our big inning.”
The Mavs scratched one run across in the bottom half of the second on a fielder’s choice and a South Panola throwing error to cut the Tiger lead to 4-1.
Williams regained his form in the third inning, and worked his way out of 2-on, one-out jam with a ground ball to short that Maverick shortstop Colton Gardner scooped up before stepping on the bag and firing to first for a double play to end the threat.
The Mavs picked up another run in the third on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Southern Miss signee Brice Fowler that cut the deficit to 4-2.
South Panola stretched the lead back to 5-2 in the top of the fourth on a controversial balk call against sophomore reliever Jon Paul Robertson, but the Mavericks stormed back with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
A throwing error gave Germantown the first run after Jacob King got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Thomas Hollingsworth brought home a run with an RBI single, and Preston Sober brought home two more with a bases-loaded single to give Germantown the 6-5 lead. He came home to score on a passed ball moments later, and Germantown took the 7-5 lead to the fifth inning.
“I’ve been in a slump lately, so I just tried to get my front foot down and drive the baseball there,” Sober said. “I was hitting well at the beginning of the season, and then I started going backwards so I’ve spent a lot of time in the cage. I was just a little anxious, but I’ve gotten better about laying back and driving the ball the other way.”
The Mavericks stayed in control from that point.
Robertson, a Meridian Community College commit, was the winning pitcher. He held the Tigers scoreless in the fifth inning, but a leadoff walk came back to bite him in the sixth when Blockman drove in a run with an RBI fielder’s choice groundout.
“I just came in and tried to throw strikes and compete,” Robertson said. “I figured they probably couldn’t do much with it even if they hit it, so just wanted to let them put in play and let the defense work behind me.”
Cole Burton slammed the door in the seventh with three strikeouts in just 14 pitches to pick up the save.
The two teams will meet in the third and final game of the series Saturday in Batesville.