Houston County pitching couldn’t cool off the bats of Pope. Neither could an approximate hour and a half weather delay.
Consequently, the Greyhounds took an 8-2 win in the third and deciding game of the GHSA Class AAAAAA Elite Eight matchup between the two and eliminated the Bears from the postseason.
Pope, on a trio of singles – it had 12 hits in all to Houston County’s six – took a 2-0 lead to start the first. The Bears, the home team, went in order against Scotty LeSieur in their first turn at bat.
James Tibbs’ homerun to lead off the second made it 3-0 before Houston County did get on board. It scored via Chandler Ring’s double – he tagged and went to third on Logan Morris’ fly out – and R.J. Preston’s grounder.
Buddy Floyd’s double to start the third helped the host get the run back, however. He moved to third on Max Pralgo’s ground out and scored on a passed ball.
That was unfortunate seeing as a double play followed and ended the inning. It was also far from the last time misfortune would work against the Bears on this night. Case in point came during their next at bat. Josh Profit singled with an out in the books, but after reaching second on an error, he was subsequently picked off.
Similar events – after Pope was unable to do anything with a leadoff double and one-out walk the half inning prior – struck in the bottom half of the inning (the fourth and with the weather – lightning, et cetera – putting the game on hold partway through the inning). Cameron Jones walked with an out in the books. Ring was hit by a pitch and Morris walked to load the bases. Ring was then picked off and Preston grounded out to end the opportunity.
Houston County, in this case Bryant Rowell who had in turn relieved Dawson who started, worked around a hit batsman and a walk to start the fifth. But, it went in order in the bottom half of the inning.
The Greyhounds then struck for four in the top of the sixth on four singles and a double.
The Bears still had an opportunity to get back in it when they came to bat, but following Dawson’s leadoff single, and Jaden Woods’ double, Andrew Herlitz struck out the side – with a walk to load the bases sandwiched between outs two and three.
Pope left a leadoff single on in the seventh whereas Houston County picked up its final run of 2018 on Jake Maddox’s single and Jackson Jones’ double.
All told, Dawson worked four innings. He gave up six hits, four runs, walked four and struck out two. Rowell worked one and two-thirds innings. He gave up five hits, four runs struck out two and walked one. Woods finished up with an inning and a third. He gave up a hit, no runs, no walks and struck out two.
For the Greyhounds, LeSieur worked four innings. He gave up two hits, a run, struck out two and walked two. Herlitz finished with three innings under his belt, four hits, a run, six strikeouts and a walk.
Houston County finished its year at 27-10. Pope continues on at 29-6.