COLLINSVILLE — In the playoffs it is all about timely hitting, and West Lauderdale got the timely hit Saturday.
Mason Willis hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to help lead the Knights past Corinth 10-2 in the decisive Game Three of the Third Round of the MHSAA Class 4A Baseball Playoffs on Saturday night at Jerry Boatner Field.
West Lauderdale (27-6) won the series 2-1 and advances to face Mooreville for the Class 4A North State Championship, which begins Thursday.
“It seemed every time we scored, they would answer, so to see Mason hit that home run was a big relief,” said West Lauderdale coach Jason Smith. “Big innings have been the identity of our team this year, so that’s been a big key for us.”
Early on, Corinth had an answer for each West Lauderdale advance.
The Knights scored the first run of the game on sacrifice fly by Commondre Cole in the second inning.
Corinth responded to tie the game 1-1 on a sacrifice fly by Will Verdung in the fourth.
The Knights regained the lead at 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth on Cole’s RBI single to center.
The Warriors answered and tied the game at 2 on a solo home run to left center by Chess Parker.
But with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Willis had a full count and connected on a fast ball and hit it over the left center wall to give West Lauderdale a 6-2 lead.
“Two strike approach is something we work on every day in practice,” Willis said. “Got a fast ball high and in and got a good swing on it.”
The Knights added on three more runs in the fifth to extend the lead to 9-2.
Cole added another RBI single to right to give West Lauderdale a 10-2 lead. He finished with three hits to lead the Knights offensively.
Brett Busbea (4-0) got the win.
“He did a great job on the mound with command,” Smith said. “He’s a sophomore and has pitched a lot of big games for us and with is velocity he was going to match up well.”
Corinth finished the season 24-7. Madden Butler (6-2) took the loss on the mound for the Warriors.
“We fought and battled, but give Willis credit he hadn’t been hitting well this series and got a pitch with two strikes and got a good swing,” said Corinth coach Rob Scarborough. “Timely hitting for them and we made too mistakes defensively and at this time of the year in a Game 3 situation you cannot do that.”