By Rocky Higginbotham
Winston County Journal
Runs were at a high premium during Nanih Waiya’s best-of-three, third-round series with French Camp Academy in the MHSAA Class 1A state baseball playoffs last weekend.
But when the dust settled, the Warriors were still rolling right along.
Nanih Waiya got a walk-off, 3-2 extra-inning win last Thursday night, then got a stellar performance from Ben Cumberland in a 3-0 win at FCA on Friday to sweep the series.
Last weekend’s wins lifted Nanih Waiya to 24-2 on the season. The Warriors are scheduled to begin the Class 1A South State Championship Series on Thursday of this week, but the opponent was undetermined at press time.
That’s because Resurrection Catholic and Ethel had one game postponed by rain and were tied at 1-game apiece after the weekend. They were scheduled to play the third-and-final game of their series Monday night at Resurrection.
Nanih Waiya, meanwhile, used outstanding pitching to get past an improving and scrappy FCA squad last week.
On Thursday, Roper Ball got the win with one inning of scoreless relief. That was after Brady Jones went seven innings and allowed only four hits and one earned run. He struck out four.
Meanwhile, the Warriors won it with ease in the bottom of the eighth after several innings of nail-biting.
Nanih Waiya scored twice in the second inning, only to see the Panthers get two in the third. It stayed 2-2 until the bottom of the eighth.
There, Bryce Stanton got a leadoff walk, then Dalton Luke singled. Austin Richardson reached on a bunt single to load the bases, and Jake Kight’s sacrifice fly plated Stanton with the winning run.
Richardson finished with two hits, while Luke, Ball, Cumberland, Coley Taylor and Chris Smith all had one.
Smith, Luke and Stanton all scored and Smith also had an RBI.
On Friday, Cumberland tossed a one-hit shutout and struck out eight at French Camp.
He also hit a solo home run for an insurance run in the seventh. Nanih Waiya had broken a scoreless tie with single runs in the fifth and sixth frames.
The Warriors had just six hits, though, with Cumberland going 2-for-3 with his solo shot and finishing with two RBIs.
Taylor singled and doubled, while Richardson finished 2-for-3.
Dalton Luke scored the team’s other run, and Tanner Luke had an RBI.