Sterlington Baseball Notes
Notes (with a few opinions mixed in) from Sterlington's 6-5, nine-inning playoff victory over Slidell Pope John Paul II on Friday afternoon:
CLASS BUNCH: Sterlington's Austin Haman didn't fall in line with his teammates for the postgame handshake. Instead, the senior left fielder/pitcher sprawled to the infield grass flat on his back with leg cramps.
As trainer Daniel Byrd treated Haman's aching legs, quite a few PJP players went out of their way to shake Haman's hand.
To see a team display such sportsmanship after a gut-wrenching loss was extremely impressive in my book.
BUFF UPDATE: Sterlington senior first baseman Tyler Buffington's baseball career is over after undergoing surgery Monday to repair a broken fibula and a torn ankle ligament.
Buffington missed the final four regular season games after being injured April 17 at Jonesboro-Hodge.
“Buff” finishes his senior season with a .264 batting average, three home runs, 18 RBI, 19 walks and five sacrifice hits. He .353 in District 2-2A play.
An offensive lineman, Buffington signed a football scholarship with the University of Arkansas at Monticello in February.
FABULOUS FROSH: With Auston Smith moving behind the plate and Kyle Vandergracht shifting over to first base following Buffington's injury, the Panthers now have three freshman in their everyday starting lineup. In addition to third baseman Dalton Dopson and center fielder Jacob Barr, who have been fixtures on the field throughout the season, righthander Spencer Davis has compiled a 9-1 record on the mound.
Smith is looking more and more comfortable behind the plate every game and is starting to swing the bat with more confidence.
CLOSE CALLS: No. 3 Riverside blanked No. 30 Delcambre 10-0 Thursday in Reserve. Each of the remaining top four seeds pulled out one-run victories. No. 4 Sterlington needed extra innings against No. 29 Pope John Paul II, No. 1 Oak Grove trimmed No. 32 North Caddo 3-2 on Chase Cockrell's home run and No. 2 Kinder was a 1-0 winner over Oak Hill.
Throw in No. 13 Oakdale's 6-5 victory over No. 20 Dunham and No. 16 Mamou's 6-5 conquest of Isidore Newman and five of the 16 first-round games were decided by a single tally.
In a couple of other nailbiters, No. 19 St. Thomas Aquinas outscored No. 14 Lakeside 11-9 and No. 6 Haynes Academy bested No. 27 Winnfield 4-2.
All eight of the higher seeds, including Sterlington, won in the top half of the bracket.
It was a different story in the lower half of the bracket where St. Thomas Aquinas, No. 22 Runnels and No. 18 Episcopal won on the road. Runnels beat Doyle 5-1 and Episcopal doubled Calvary Baptist 10-5.
SUTTON WATCH: Righthander Casey Sutton, the Panthers' ace the past two seasons, continues to shine as a freshman at Hinds (Miss.) Community College.
Starting Game 1 of a best-of-three MACJC playoff series, Sutton turned in a complete game, three-hit effort in the Eagles' 6-2 victory over Northwest Mississippi on Friday night. He struck out five without issuing a walk in the nine-inning game. Only one of the Rangers' runs was earned.
Tossing his third complete game of the season, Sutton raised his record to 6-2.
Hinds (28-16) is the No. 2 seed from the South, while Northwest (30-14) is the No. 3 seed from the North.
The series resumes Saturday at 1 p.m. at Joe G. Moss Field on the Raymond, Miss. campus. Northwest must win to force a decisive Game 3, which would be played Saturday afternoon as the second half of a double header.