Desoto County Sports

Tigers drop final series opener to Brandon

Second game of best-of-three set for Thursday night at Trustmark Park

The Hernando baseball Tigers had to rally earlier in the 7A playoffs this year after a game one loss to Lewisburg to win the series and move on to next sweep Oxford in the North Half finals. They’ll need to find a similar solution if they are to come back and win the state championship later this week. 

In a game where the Tigers struggled at the plate and in the field, the Brandon Bulldogs took the opening game of the final series 5-2 at Trustmark Park in Pearl Tuesday night. The series moves to a game two Thursday night, and if the Tigers win that one, a Saturday state championship game will decide the series winner and who gets the title trophy.  

Hernando could muster only three hits against winning pitcher Walker Hooks, a senior left handed pitcher who walked one and struck out seven. One of the hits came from Luke Romine, who blasted a bomb over the right field fence in the top of the sixth inning. 

“He kept us in the game with that and I think that gave us a little life,” first-year Hernando coach Taylor Karr said about the home run by Romine.  

However, for the game, Hernando mustered only two other hits with the first one coming from Cade Koczka with a two-out base hit in the fifth. Hallas Lawson had the other hit, a double, and Lawson would score on the home run by Romine.  

It was later in the fifth inning after the Tigers seemingly started to put some momentum together that two umpire calls went against them while in the field. Brandon took a 4-0 lead after the inning, in part to a run-scoring sacrifice fly where the Hernando bench argued the runner left the bag too early coming home. 

The other non-call was by a base umpire in what appeared to be runner interference at second base as the Tiger infield tried to make a double play.  

“I don’t want to say too much about it, but we had a rules call right there at second that you know, didn’t go our way and they scored off that,” Karr said about the second base call after the game. “I also think we got squeezed behind the dish and we let that get to us.” 

Romine’s home run got the game to 4-2 Brandon in the sixth, but another Bulldog run scored in the bottom half of the inning would then appear to be the final nail in Tuesday’s coffin for the Tigers, who were set down in order in the seventh to win the game.  

Thomas Mitchell was Hernando’s starting pitcher Tuesday night and he struggled with the strike zone, walking five, allowing four runs and six hits while fanning four in four innings on the mound. Mitchell would be tagged with the loss.  Meyer Maddox was credited with two innings pitched, allowing two hits and the last run of the game.  

“I mean, he’s been our guy all year,” Karr said of Mitchell. “We’ve started him in game one all year long and we’re not going to change it up.”

In addition to bat troubles, the Tigers were also hurt in the field with four errors, uncharacteristic of the North Half champions.  

“We didn’t play, you know, the brand of baseball that we played all year to get here and I think the moment probably got a little big,” Karr said. “At the end of the day, they won a game but didn’t win a championship tonight.”  

The formula to taking game two Thursday night to force a deciding game three on Saturday is simple as far as Karr is concerned.  

“Play Hernando baseball like we’ve been doing all year,” Karr said. “We got challenged three weeks ago and pulled through and we can do it again.”

MARTIN NAMED SCHOLAR ATHLETE: State high school tournament finals in Mississippi always include the naming of a Scholar Athlete for the teams competing for the championship. Centerfielder Brody Martin was tabbed as Hernando’s Scholar Athlete and recognized before the start of the contest. Also during the pre-game ceremonies, Hernando was awarded the North Half Championship won in Oxford.

MHSAA 7A state baseball championship final series – best of three

At Trustmark Park, Pearl

  • Brandon 5, Hernando 2 (Brandon leads 1-0)  
  • Hernando vs. Brandon – 7 p.m., Thursday, May 23
  • Hernando vs. Brandon – (if needed) TBA Saturday, May 25 

*-time to be determined by the number of series requiring a third game