A seventh inning sacrifice fly pushed Thomas County Central to a 5-4 victory – its second win over Cairo this season, and first since March 25.
Eli Taylor gracefully popped out to right field to bring in Doug Smith for the game-winning score. Smith led off the inning with a single, then reached third on a Peyton Singletary base hit to right field. The Jackets took their final lead with no outs.
“Tonight, I think, gave our guys the confidence that they know they can execute,” Central coach Chad Parkerson said. “We didn’t necessarily play clean as a whistle, but we had a lot of great at bats, squared some balls up and executed – things they hadn’t been doing.”
Cairo struck first with two runs in the opening inning, but Central bounced back with a pair of scores in the fourth and fifth to take a 4-2 lead.
The Syrupmakers came right back in the sixth inning to tie the game with a pair of runs. Jesse Miller blooped into left field, Tyler Dalton lined a base hit into center, then Myles Knight beat a grounder on a shortstop error to load the bases for Hunter Miller, who followed with an RBI single to trim the lead to one.
Parkerson then made a pitching change in favor of Cooper Mayhall, who walked in his first opposing batter, 3, to tie the game. Cairo’s 14 then got ahead 3-1 in the count but Mayhall delivered two clutch strikes to end the inning leaving the bases loaded.
It was the blow-for-blow you normally see in the boxing ring, not the baseball diamond.
“I told them after the game we were probably two or three executions away from winning,” Cairo coach Ron Best said. “Obviously we’re a little disappointed because we’re very competitive and want to win, but in the overall picture, it’s a chance to get better, make a few tweaks and maybe win a close game against a quality team in the future”
Cairo (8-11, 8-2), after all, has secured a spot in the state tournament based on 1-AAAA standings. The Syrupmakers resume region play with a trip to Albany on Friday.
Central (6-12, 0-7), however, still seeks its first region win.
Parkerson believes that his team’s confident demeanor will carry over to Friday’s road tilt at Bainbridge, in which the Jackets hope to secure their first 1-AAAAA victory.
“I told the guys after the game to be excited about [the win], but not to be satisfied,” Parkerson said. “Tomorrow when we come back to practice, they all know what we need to work on.”