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Sumrall walks off with 6-5 win over Pontotoc in Class 4A Championship series opener

Ethan Aultman turned on a fastball and laced a ball down the line to lift the Bobcats to a win in extra-innings

PEARL — The Sumrall Bobcats exorcised some Trustmark Park demons in Tuesday’s 6-5 win over Pontotoc in the MHSAA 4A Baseball Championship opener, and they did it in the most dramatic fashion.

The Bobcats — 0-4 in their previous two trips to Trustmark Park to play for a state championship — scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings, then won it on a walk-off single off the bat of Ethan Aultman in the bottom of the eighth.

“I was standing over here trying to figure out what I was going to say to the team to get our morale back up for Game 2,” Sumrall coach Andy Davis said, pointing at the third-base coaching box. “Then we got a runner on, then another, then we loaded the bases, then we scored a couple of runs… just a wild game.”

The win gives the Bobcats (34-1) a 1-0 lead in the winner-take-all, best-of-three series. Game 2 is set for 4 p.m. Thursday. If necessary, Game 3 would be either 10 a.m. Saturday or TBD Sunday.

Pontotoc (30-9) got the lead in the second inning, after Jabari Farr was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Corbyn Clayton.

They led it 2-0 after three innings and 2-1 after four. The Warriors got two insurance runs in the sixth on Clayton’s two-run double, and led it 5-1 going into the final inning.

That’s when the wheels came off.

Landon Holliman led things off with a single to center, Marshall Phillips followed with a double, and Ethan Aultman drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Levi Odom brought home a couple of runs with a single, and Walker Long reached on a fielding error that allowed another run and brought the Bobcats within one, 5-4.

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It was Bryson Smith who drew the bases-loaded walk to tie the game.

“Early in the game, I felt like the 0-for-4 curse was there,” Davis said. “We played tight. It’s just good to finally get a freaking win here.”

In the eighth, Aultman smoked a grounder down the third base line after Phillips drew a walk and stole second to lead off the inning. It rolled into the corner and Phillips chugged around third to score, running past his teammates, who were already pouring out of the dugout to celebrate.

“I was supposed to lay down the sacrifice bunt there,” Aultman said. “I couldn’t get it down, so I was gonna have to swing the bat. I just tried to put it in play to move the runner. It was a fast ball, low and in.

“This was huge. A Game 1 win is always big, but this is even bigger for us. We know we have the momentum.”

Bobcat starter Levi Odom gave up five runs on three walks and three hits with three strikeouts. Reliever Keaton Mauldin picked up the win in relief, going 2.2 innings without giving up a run with two walks and two strikeouts.

The Bobcats finished with just seven hits, but benefitted from nine walks.

“When you play a team like Sumrall, you have to play a complete seven inning game and we didn’t,” Pontotoc coach Josh Dowdy said. “They made us pay for our mistakes.”