Calhouns double lifts Cathedral to 2-1 win in tourney final

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; With the way things were going in this one, there almost shouldn&8217;t have been any question. Go with the bunt.

Zack Calhoun expected the call the whole way. He looked over at Cathedral first-base coach Craig Beesley. He didn&8217;t give the sign despite Charlie Lane sitting on second with one out in the last of the seventh with the score 1-1.

Uhm, hit away?

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&8220;I really wanted to do it at that time,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;Zack is such a good bunter. You can put this in the paper &8212; I didn&8217;t have the guts to do it the way things were going.&8221;

Calhoun indeed hit away and ripped a shot down the line in left for a double to score Lane to give the Green Wave a 2-1 win over Ethel for the opening-round tournament championship.

It also locked up a no-hitter for Alex Middleton on the mound and a second-round series matchup with either Lake or Mercy Cross beginning Thursday in a South State semifinal.

&8220;We were getting (runners) on base and couldn&8217;t push them around,&8221; Calhoun said. &8220;Coach was telling me if we were on second or third we&8217;d bunt. He never called it. I was looking for the pitch, and he hung a curveball up.

&8220;We made too many mental mistakes, and we should have beaten this team 7 or 8-0. The only reason they scored a run was because of errors. But I think this is a big win going to the next round on something like this.&8221;

Calhoun&8217;s hit was the only one for extra bases the entire game, and Ethel pitcher Matt McAdams got out of a number of jams after giving up a run in the first inning. The Green Wave left 10 runners on base through six innings, including leaving three on in the second after loading the bases with no outs and failing to score.

&8220;We were leaving a lot of baserunners on throughout the ball game,&8221; Beesley said. &8220;We didn&8217;t do the little things right today that we&8217;ve been doing all year &8212; getting runners in from third with less than two outs. I know we&8217;re going to make physical mistakes. We had enough mental mistakes today to last the rest of the playoffs.&8221;

Credit Ethel for battling and staying in the game behind McAdams and a solid defense. Shortstop Aaron Blaine made several standout plays, including one where he faked a throw to first and tagged out CHS baserunner Patrick McDonough off second.

The loss was especially tough on the Tigers, who lost in situations just like this one each of the previous two seasons &8212; Union last year in the tournament final, and Mize the year prior.

&8220;The same way every time,&8221; Ethel head coach Chris Houston said. &8220;We&8217;ve never made it to the second game (of the final). It&8217;s always the first game. What beat us was we didn&8217;t hit the ball. On defense, you&8217;ve got to give our guys credit. We played with a lot of heart. There were lots of times they could have scored two or three runs, but we kept battling and battling.&8221;

The rest was up to Middleton, who settled down after four innings to keep the Tigers quiet and finish off a no-hitter. The left-hander was making his second start of the season, and the senior fanned only two but walked only three and faced the minimum in the last three innings.

And the senior wasn&8217;t playing into the jinx philosophy late in the game when he sat alone outside of the dugout.

&8220;When I sit by myself, it gets me better focused,&8221; the left-hander said. &8220;I like to stay by myself. I just played my game. I&8217;ve got to go out there and think they can&8217;t hit me. If you&8217;ve got the right mentality, you&8217;ll do well every time.&8221;

The Tigers got their run in the fourth thanks to two errors &8212; the Green Wave&8217;s only errors of the game. Hunter Dempsey reached on an error, and Lane tried to get a force out at second on Jacob Black&8217;s grounder but threw it into the outfield.

Dempsey went to third on the pitch and scored later on a wild pitch. Middleton then got Jody Kelley to ground out to short to end the inning.

The Tigers&8217; only other baserunner after that came when Will Ferguson walked in the sixth. But he was punched out on the next pitch by catcher Jesse Morrison trying to steal second.

&8220;I give their guy credit,&8221; Houston said. &8220;If you can&8217;t hit, you don&8217;t deserve to be here. I&8217;ve got a bunch of seniors who are playing their last game, and they&8217;ve done it three years in a row. I tell you &8212; I&8217;d rather lose by 10 than get beat by one three years in a row.&8221;

Cathedral got its run in the first when Jesse Morrison was hit by a pitch for the 11th time this season and eventually came around to score on a McDonough groundout.