Another McDaniels grand slam helps Troopers close out series

MOOREVILLE – Loading the bases with Wyatt McDaniels due up has been an absolute horror show for opposing pitchers.

The Mooreville freshman smashed his fifth grand slam of the season Tuesday night, which helped the Troopers take a 10-0 win over Booneville in the decisive Game 3 of their second-round Class 3A playoff series.

McDaniels delivered his big blow in the fourth inning, and it gave Mooreville (24-8) an 8-0 lead.

“It’s just a clutch moment, and I’ve got a knack for competing in those big situations for my team,” McDaniels said. “I just live for that moment. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

It was the second time McDaniels made Booneville pay on the night. After the Blue Devils (14-15) issued an intentional walk to leadoff man Mason McMillin in the third inning, McDaniels laced a two-run double to make it a 3-0 game. The big catcher doesn’t normally bat right behind McMillin, but coach Derek Thompson decided to mix things up.

“The guy we’ve got hitting behind Mason is second on the team in hitting, but it’s a different look whenever you put Wyatt up there,” Thompson said.

The Troopers first got on the board in the second inning on an RBI groundout by Ethan Cates.

Mason Gillentine had three of Mooreville’s seven hits, including an RBI double in the fifth. He then scored on Crimson Rock’s single to trigger the 10-run mercy rule and end the game.

Gillentine was also strong on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out six. He did have to fight out of some jams due mainly to self-inflicted wounds – he walked four batters and hit another – but the senior escaped every time.

Gillentine has been battling an elbow injury that’s limited his mound time all season.

“He came in after every inning, and I talked to him,” Thompson said, “and he said, ‘I’m going.’ When a guy like that who’s played for me since he was in the seventh grade said he was good, I’ve got a lot of confidence in it.”

Mooreville will face Alcorn Central in the quarterfinals.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Will Carnathan had an RBI single in the fourth, and McDaniels hit his eighth homer of the season two batters later.

Big Stat: McDaniels went 2 for 3 with six RBIs.

Coach Speak: “He’s been in big games. It’s nothing new to him, those situations.” – Thompson, on McDaniels