Walk-off wild pitch sends South Pontotoc to North half final

SPRINGVILLE – For the second straight series, South Pontotoc let a lead slip away late in a critical Game 3. For the second straight series, the Cougars walked off and advanced.

Eli Holloway scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning, and South Pontotoc beat West Lauderdale 3-2 to move on to the Class 4A North half finals.

“I'm proud of our guys and the way they play,” Cougars coach Jeff Harmon said. “They played really, really hard, and I'm just thankful that this bunch is a special group.”

Holloway, whose walk-off grand slam a week prior got the Cougars to the third round, stood on third base with the bases loaded, one out and Dalton Tutor at the plate.

Early in the at-bat, a pitch got past the catcher and went just far enough away that Holloway could score.

“We’ve had a bad history with that brick wall shooting back (balls), so I was really glad when I saw it get pinched under that pad,” the senior said. “I just knew I had to bust it home, and it felt good.”

Holloway got the scoring started with a solo home run in the bottom of the third. Isaiah Stuto followed with one of his own in the fourth to make it 2-0.

That score held up until the top of the seventh.

Cody Pigford led the frame off with a walk, but the next two batters popped out, putting West Lauderdale (25-7) down to its final out.

That’s when Cannon Graham cracked a game-tying, two-run home run over the left field wall.

Even after another sharp turn of events, the Cougars were confident they could make something happen in the bottom half.

“We knew we had another at-bat. It was a brand new game at that point. We had more outs left than they did,” Holloway said. “We knew that with the top of the order coming up, we still had a great chance.”

South Pontotoc (25-5) will face Ripley in the North half finals. The teams last played on Feb. 17 in Ripley, with the Cougars winning 8-7.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Holloway lined a single into right to start the bottom of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt and two intentional walks got him to third base.

Big Stat: Seven of the game’s 12 hits went for extra bases.

Coach Speak: “We better come ready to play. Coach (Joel) Gafford’s got a great club. They’ve got some great arms, they’ve got a great baseball team; he’s a great coach. I just look forward to playing Ripley again.” – Harmon. on Ripley