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Cathedral forces Game 3

Cathedral School’s Thomas Garrity, right, celebrates with teammates Ty Brown and Turner Janette after scoring the first run of Friday’s game against Nanih Waiya High School in the second game of the Class A South State Championship Series. Cathedral defeated Nanih Waiya 4-3. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — It appeared that the Cathedral School baseball team was going to strand the go-ahead run at second base in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night.

Left fielder Blake Martin had led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but the next two Green Wave batters failed to drive in Martin to give Cathedral the lead.

But then first baseman Austin Chauvin stepped to the plate, took ball one and then slapped a single past Nanih Waiya second baseman Tanner Dalton to drive in Martin and give the Green Wave a 4-3 lead.

Once Cathedral grabbed the lead, starting pitcher Caleb Upton knew he could finish off the win, and he did just that to keep the Green Wave alive in the South State Championship series with a 4-3 victory in Game 2.

“I had no doubt we were about to win that game,” Upton said. “The boys were fired up, and I knew if I threw strikes they would make the plays.”

Upton faced the top four batters in the Nanih Waiya lineup and only allowed one to reach on an error. The senior pitcher threw all seven innings and battled his way to the win. He gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out one.

The fifth inning was when Nanih Waiya did all of its damage against Upton. The Warriors rallied for four hits and three runs to tie the game 3-3. Upton said the fifth inning was tough, but he did not allow one bad inning to affect his performance.

“I left balls up, and they hit them,” Upton said about the fifth inning. “But I came back the next inning and kept throwing strikes, and it worked in my favor.”

Cathedral built its lead slowly, scoring runs in each of the first three innings.

Thomas Garrity led off Cathedral’s first inning with a single and advanced to second on a pass ball. Upton followed with a single that scored Garrity to put Cathedral up 1-0.

In the second inning, Colton Webb reached on a fielder’s choice, and Daniel Huffines drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

Upton reached on a one-out single in the third, and Kyle Bradley drove him in with an RBI-double to push Cathedral’s lead to three.

Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said it was important for his team to jump out early, because he knew Nanih Waiya had the ability to score runs in bunches.

“I thought we swung the bats well early,” Beesley said. “It took us a long time to get our three, and they got theirs quick.”

Nanih Waiya’s big fifth inning started with a single by Ty Higginbotham and a walk by Dalton. Upton retired the next two batters, but Hunter Swart blasted a two-RBI triple to cut Cathedral’s lead to 3-2. Pitcher Colby Eaves followed with an RBI-single to tie the game.

Cathedral failed to answer in the bottom of the fifth, but Upton held Nanih Waiya’s offense until Chauvin could single in the winning run.

Upton said a lot of his success Friday was due to his young battery-mate, Ty Brown. Upton is Cathedral’s regular catcher, but Brown steps in when Upton pitches, and the senior said the sophomore catcher is developing.

“Our catcher, Ty Brown, played great,” Upton said. “Honestly at the start (of the season) it was sketchy, because he was inexperienced, but he has really stepped up big time.”

Brown finished the game 1-for-2 at the plate and also gunned down a base runner trying to steal second base in the third inning.

Upton helped himself out at the plate Friday going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Chauvin went 2-for-3 as well. Cathedral tallied eight hits on Eaves, who took the loss for the Warriors.

Beesley said he was happy the Green Wave was able to stay alive in the series.

“The main thing here, especially for the seniors, is we have another day we get to play again,” Beesley said.

The deciding game of the series will be at 5 p.m. today at Nanih Waiya, and Beesley said it would be important for his team to score early again.

“We have to get the bats going early (today),” he said.

Cathedral improved to 17-8 overall with the win.