Tradition-rich Patriots dash AC’s title hopes

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

FLOWOOD &045; When it comes to championship series and the pressure associated with it, no one may keep cooler than Jackson Prep.

But JoJo Tann admitted he had a case of the nerves.

The Patriots won the completion of Game 1 on Thursday and needed a Game 2 win to claim their second straight MPSA Class AAA state title and ninth in school history with a win over Adams Christian.

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And even when the Patriots scored five in the first, the Ole Miss signee couldn’t relax until the game was over. Prep won Game 2 8-3 to claim the series, and Tann was right in there with his teammates and fans in a dogpile in the middle of the infield.

&uot;They had a great year,&uot; Tann said of the Rebels. &uot;They reminded us of us last year &045; a team without anything to lose. They played hard and played to win. They’ve got some great athletes, and they’ll be tough next year.&uot;

The win capped off a second straight year of going undefeated in the playoffs for the Patriots, but it also marked the end of an improbable run for the Rebels. Adams finished fourth in the South and had to battle its way through the playoffs by taking series win over north champ Jackson Academy and a tough Hillcrest Christian team.

It was enough for the Rebels to take the two losses Thursday sort of in stride &045; they got to the state championship for the third time in school history and simply got beat by a better team.

&uot;That’s what’s sweet about it,&uot; Adams Christian head coach Gill Morris said. &uot;They should be (proud). A No. 4 seed makes it to the championship. That was a huge accomplishment for them. The kids will bounce back. The adults will remember it, but the kids will be fine. A lot of teams don’t get to enjoy these medallions, and that’s a big plus for us.

&uot;We need to take this as a learning experience and work harder, and we’ll bounce back.&uot;

The Rebels couldn’t get a rally going early in the game after falling behind 5-0 in the first inning. They left five men on base in the first two innings before Prep starter Harrison Hood retired the side in order in three straight innings.

After getting in trouble in the fifth, Hood left in favor of ace starter Kyle Moore, who closed the door without allowing a hit after throwing the final three innings to close out Game 1.

&uot;I can’t say enough about (Moore),&uot; Prep head coach Trey Bayliss said. &uot;To go back out there, that’s guts. We’re fortunate. We’re very senior-driven. We had some strong seniors last year and this year. Every year they’re expected to lead this team to this point. They haven’t let us down. We’ve got kids next year who know what’s expected of them, and they won’t be satisfied with anything less.&uot;

Moore ended the day pitching five scoreless innings and allowing just two hits. The Rebels finally got to Hood in the sixth when Timmy Foster slapped a solo homer to left and David New followed it with a two-run homer to cut the lead to 6-3.

That’s when Moore came in, and he retired the first three batters he faced to end the inning. He did the same in the seventh, getting Dustin Case to ground out to third to end the game.

&uot;Just go out, throw the ball and if they hit it let the defense make the play,&uot; Moore said. &uot;Or make them not hit it. We knew we had to get that first win. But last year we hadn’t lost to Hillcrest, and this year we hadn’t lost to Central Private. We just came to play and played our game.&uot;

The Patriots answered with two in the sixth off reliever Douglas Davis, who came in with just one out in the first in relief of Foster. Hunter Owen drove home two runs with a double for the five-run cushion.

&uot;They’re probably the best team in Mississippi,&uot; Morris said. &uot;We just didn’t play very good ball today. You can’t take anything away from Prep. They’re well-coached and run the bases better than anybody in the MPSA. They deserved it. They just get the job done.&uot;

Jackson Prep 4, Adams 3 (Game 1)

It took a week and extra innings, but the Patriots got a run in the top of the eighth to take the pivotal Game 1 in the completion of the contest.

The game resumed in the bottom of the sixth, and both teams remained tied at 3-3 after the seventh inning. But in the top half of the eighth the Patriots got a leadoff walk from Swayze Waters to start things off.

Waters made a break to second, and the throw from Williams to Case was wild and went into center field, allowing Waters to move up to third. Hunter Owen’s sacrifice fly got Waters home for the Prep lead.

The Rebels threatened in their half of the eighth but came up empty against right-hander Kyle Moore. Ray Simpson doubled to lead off, and Dustin Case walked with one out. But Moore got Foster to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second out and David Trisler swinging to end the game.