Mount Olive stuns Cathedral

Published 12:48 am Sunday, April 20, 2008

MOUNT OLIVE — When Cathedral and Mount Olive take on each other, it’s usually on the football field with the Beesleys on one sideline and the McNairs on the other.

But on Saturday afternoon, the rivalry between the Green Wave and the Pirates moved to the baseball diamond in Game 1 of their best-of-three series in the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A South State Playoffs.

And it turned out to be a game of missed opportunities for Cathedral as the Region 8-1A champion Green Wave was upset by Region 7-1A’s fourth-seeded Pirates 12-11 in 10 innings.

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Cathedral (17-4) trailed 9-5 after six innings of play, only to send the game into extra innings with an amazing four-run rally. But just like early on in the ball game, the Green Wave was not able to take control of the game and the Pirates capitalized, scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. That was after each team scored two runs in the eighth inning to make it an 11-11 game.

“I thought we had the momentum going into extra innings, but we couldn’t put them away,” Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. “They just outplayed us. We knew they were going to hit the baseball.”

The Green Wave took a 4-0 lead, but the Pirates scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning to get back in the game. Then a grand slam home run by A. Keller gave the Pirates a 7-5 lead.

Beesley said his team could have easily won the game had it taken advantage of several scoring opportunities.

“I was disappointed. We left too many runners on base. We left 11 runners on in the first five inning,” Beesley said. “We hit too many fly balls with the speed they have in the outfield. Twelve of our first 21 outs were fly balls.”

In addition to Keller’s grand slam, three McNairs were key to the Pirates’ win. Jason McNair was the winning pitcher and went 4-for-5 at the plate. Steve McNair had a double and Julius McNair was 2-for-4.

Mt. Olive out-hit Cathedral 15-10 in the game. And while three of the Pirates’ 15 hits went for extra bases, all of the Green Wave’s 10 hits were singles.

Starting pitcher Preston Edwards went just four and one-third innings, allowing seven runs on six hits. Losing pitcher Dylan White gave up five runs on nine hits in five-plus innings.

Now Cathedral must win both games on Monday at Chester Willis Field to keep its season going. Game 2 will start at 4:30 p.m. with Game 3, if necessary, to follow.