Desoto County Sports

Hernando falls to Brandon in 7A baseball final series

In sports, there’s always talk about “chasing the ring,” as in a championship, and when new Hernando baseball coach Taylor Karr arrived on Dilworth Lane last summer, he made it a point to tell his team they would be put in position to do just that.  

Thursday night, Karr’s Tigers came up just short of the goal, but the program knows now it can compete with the upper echelon of Mississippi large-school baseball teams and should expect to someday return and “win the ring.”

The Brandon Bulldogs, who may be 7A South Half champions but whose campus is just 18 minutes from Pearl’s Trustmark Park where the game was played, made a first-inning run stand up for a 1-0 victory and a two-game sweep of Hernando in the state championship final series.  The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 5-2 in the series opener on Tuesday night.  

The only run of the game came in the first at-bat of the contest with Brandon pegged as the visiting team for the game. That’s when a throwing error on a ground ball allowed Jay McQueen to score from second base. McQueen would also have the only hit of the contest for the Bulldogs in the victory, the school’s first state title since 1967.  

To its credit, Hernando mustered four hits against winning pitcher Jackson Clark, including two singles from Tyler Sullivan. Hallas Lawson and Topher Jones also hit safely. 

Losing pitcher Luke Romine settled in after the rough first inning and went on to strike out four and walked four, but was tagged with the run that decided the game and the state championship, a run that would be unearned.  

Preston Johnson came in to throw the final three innings for the Tigers, and while allowing one hit, Johnson struck out three and walked no one.  

“They did everything we asked them to and threw their souls out,” Karr said of his pitchers. “And that’s all you can ask just like as a team. All you can ask them is to give it everything you got and we did.”

As offenses were shut down after the first inning, the Tigers’ last at-bat might have offered the best hope for a miraculous comeback, but ultimately it did not happen.

Lawson opened the frame with a base hit but was still at first after Topher Jones was fanned for the first out. Then, Lawson was caught too far off the base and when Clark threw to first, Lawson was picked off for the second out. One pitch later, Romine looked at a called third strike and the game was over.  

After the game, Karr told his team that he and the coaching staff were grateful for the effort and accomplishments they had made during the season.  

“I told them that I love them, we care about them and I appreciate them for taking a chance on me,” Karr said. “In a year’s span we got all the way here. We didn’t get it done, but it doesn’t change the outcome of what we’re building as a program.”

Eight seniors played their last game in a Hernando uniform Thursday night and Karr pointed to them as the group that has now set Tiger baseball on a winning trajectory. 

“A class that will be remembered forever as the seniors that changed this program, and they will be remembered as that,” Karr said.