Contributing: Robert Higginbotham
Nanih Waiya 9 — Greenville St Joe 8
For the second year in a row, Nanih Waiya proved they have the best 1A baseball team in the state of MS.
In the deciding game 3 (in a best 2 of 3 series) of the MHSAA 1A State Baseball Championships and in front of huge crowd of Nanih Waiya faithful, at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson, the Warriors got a gritty pitching performance from Colby Eaves (also the winning pitcher in game one) and a total team effort at the plate.
Stewart Ball, sophomore catcher, lead the way with 3 hits and center fielder Hunter Luke added a pair of doubles. Every Warrior had at least one hit.
Luke Rosamond got things started with a lead-off single in the bottom of the first inning, Hunter Luke reached base on an error, Hunter Swart walked and Colby Eaves reached on a second error in the inning. Rosamond, Luke, Swart, and courtesy runner Peyton Jones all scored to put the Warriors up 4-0. They never trailed in the game-scoring in every inning except the last. Ball and left fielder Zach Hanna each had a hit in the inning.
Hunter Luke doubled with one out in the bottom half of the second inning, then scored on an RBI double by Eaves extending the lead to 5-0.
Greenville St Joe scored 3 runs off a pair of walks , a hit batsman and a triple to close the gap to 5-3. The Warriors got one of those runs back after Ball led off the bottom of the third inning with a triple to right-center, then scored on an RBI single by first baseman, Ty Higginbotham.
Eaves only threw 8 pitches, setting the Fighting Irish down in order in the top of the fourth. The Warriors then added a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning. Hunter Luke led off with a double and scored, Eaves drew a one out intentional walk and courtesy runner Peyton Jones scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Zach Hanna.
But the Irish were not done as they scored 3 more runs off a pair of errors and a triple by first baseman Raines Rester, making the score 8-6. The Warriors, once again, answered by adding their final run of the game, in their half of the fifth inning. Second baseman Tanner Dalton singled to start the 5th, then after a pair of strikeouts, Hunter Swart hustled out an infield single and Dalton scored on an errant throw to first base.
St Joe scored 2 more runs on 3 hits in the top of the 6th inning, but Eaves took care of business in the top of the seventh. He got a fly ball out to left field. He then hit a batter, but catcher Stewart Ball threw out the base runner on an attempted steal for out number 2. Eaves then enticed a ground ball to short stop Rosamond, who was playing on a badly injured foot.
Rosamond made a spectacular play to get to the ball, then from the ground threw to 1B where Higginbotham made an equally amazing “short- hop” scoop while stretching as far as his body would allow for the last out to end the game.
Brandon Rigdon, one of only 2 seniors-the other being Hunter Swart, also had a hit and perhaps a game saving play in right field in the top of the sixth inning when he hustled to prevent a ball from getting in the gap and going to the wall. Rigdon’s play prevented a runner from scoring and stranding what would have been the tying run at third base.
“What a great feeling”, said head coach Tyler Rogers, “to be blessed to win 2 State Championships. “What a great group of young men and what a team effort’, continued Rogers.
Rogers was assisted by Corey Coward.
Eaves was named 1A Player-of-the-Year and Stewart Ball was named game MVP.
The remaining players on the Warriors team are:
Jacob Hemphill, Garrett Miles, Deyon Sanders, Wyatt Ball, Dylan Dent, Austin Richardson, Steven Thornton, Devain McQueen, Taylor Robinson, Hunter Shafer, Ken McQueen, Gentry Hodge, Clark Sullivan, Brady Jones and Tyler Watt.