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Cathedral swept by Smithville 2-0 with a 6-2 loss in Game 2

Cathedral catcher Ty Brown reacts as Smithville players celebrate a run during the MHSAA 1A State Championship in Pearl Thursday. Cathedral fell to Smithville 6-12.
Cathedral catcher Ty Brown reacts as Smithville players celebrate a run during the MHSAA 1A State Championship in Pearl Thursday. Cathedral fell to Smithville 6-12. (Thomas Graning / The Natchez Democrat)

Pearl — Missed opportunities, a controversial call and costly mistakes sealed the Cathedral Green Wave baseball team’s fate Thursday morning in a 6-2 loss to Smithville High School for the MHSAA Class 1A State Championship.

A Cathedral team that boasted six freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup showed its youth at various times in the series with mental errors, but after Smithville claimed the final out to win the series, Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley tipped his cap to his opponent and said he was proud of what his young team accomplished.

“We had young guys, but the young guys really played well all year,” Beesley said. “It’s been a long week for us, but these kids played their hearts out. That’s all I can ask for.”

The game began in a familiar fashion — Thomas Garrity on the mound, taking it to the Green Wave’s opponent. However, the velocity on his pitches lacked. After two scoreless innings, Garrity walked the first two Smithville batters in the third. Garrity, who gave up an RBI single that scored a Seminole runner on a play at the plate two batters later, surrendered his first run in 23 straight scoreless postseason innings. Smithville tacked on another run to go up 2-0 entering the fourth.

Garrity, who pitched seven innings Monday against Stringer High School in a 1-0 victory to advance to state, said he entered the game around 50 percent, and it took him a few innings before he could get his speed back to the norm.

“Early on, I was hitting 81, 79 (m.p.h.),” said Garrity, as he looked at the field with tears in his eyes from the grand stands. “The last two innings I felt good, though. I was back to throwing 85, 87.”

In the fourth, everything unraveled for the Green Wave. After botching a rundown opportunity between second and third to end the inning, Smithville’s Tyler Hood lined a 2-RBI double into left field. A Blake Comer 2-RBI double followed to make the game 6-0 in favor of the Seminoles.

Cathedral didn’t go down without a fight. In the sixth, Jacob Jenkins led off the inning with a single and Thomas Garrity drew a walk to put two-on with no outs. With an 0-2 count, ensuing batter Andrew Beesley lined a single to load the bases. Suddenly, the momentum was switching.

Then, Comer caught Ty Brown’s line drive and flipped the ball to second for a double play. The call was controversial, and it seemed Garrity beat the throw. Beesley met the umpire to argue the call.

“That was a momentum breaker,” Beesley said. “I thought we were getting back into the game there, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Following the controversy, Zac Flattmann ripped an RBI single and Craig Bradley hit an RBI double, but the inning would end after Pate Shirley flew out.

Smithville shut down Cathedral in the seventh to earn the title as state champions.

Though Turner Janette, Garrity and Brown each watched their high school careers end in an unsatisfying defeat, Beesley saw tremendous growth in each senior this season, and thought they handled the pressure of leading a young team well.

“Thomas was always tough for us on the mound, and Turner has been great in the outfield,” Beesley said. “Ty has always wanted to work and get better. Hopefully these younger guys will follow in his shoes.”

Brown is confident the freshmen and sophomores will finish what the seniors helped start this season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them, and I hope they take it next year,” Brown said. “I know they’ll be back here and claim that championship.”

Cathedral finished its season with a 23-8 record.