Rams rally for win over perenial power University Christian
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
April 26, 2001
DEKALB University Christian School rolled into town here Wednesday afternoon with the reputation of being the most powerful Class A baseball program in the Mississippi Private School Association during the last decade.
And with a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Flames seemingly had host Kemper Academy on the ropes. Seemingly, at least, because it was in the bottom of the fifth that things fell apart for UCS.
Kemper erupted for eight runs in its half of the fifth, then held on for an 11-9 win over University Christian in the first game of their best-of-three, first-round MPSA playoff series.
The game was scheduled for Tuesday night but was postponed by rain.
The Rams, who were the District 3-A runnerup, will now go to Flowood for Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m. University, the 4-A champ, has three state titles in the last four years.
Kemper looked for a long time like it was going to dig itself a 1-0 hole in the series. But while KA starter Ty Harbour kept churning on the hill, University pitcher Anthony Cupps finally gave in during the bottom of the fifth.
The errors began in the second for the Rams, when a pair of miscues and two walks led to a five-run inning by the Flames that put them ahead 6-1.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, as Cupps who struck out six in four-plus innings faced just six men in the third and fourth innings.
In the fifth, however, Cupps hit Adam Davis with a pitch, then walked Matthew Johnson and Cody Stephens to load the bases.
That opened the door for the 11-5 Rams, and they took full advantage.
Bo Harper's pinch-hit infield single plated Davis and kept the bases loaded, then Harbour was hit by a pitch to make it a 6-3 game. Dereck Calvert followed with a shot into left-center field that hopped the fence for a two-run, ground-rule double, and UCS coach Lamont Echols pulled Cupps in favor of Trey Butts.
Butts was greeted with a shot to left field off the bat of Josh McCarty that plated Harbour. When the throw went to the plate, McCarty took second drawing another throw that allowed Calvert to score and put the Rams on top, 7-6.
Johnson added a two-out, two-run single later in the inning for a 9-6 lead that Kemper didn't surrender.
The Rams added to that lead in the bottom of the sixth. Calvert started it with another ground-rule double this one with two outs and McCarty and Wade Whitaker each followed with doubles to push Kemper ahead 11-6.
It got too interesting for Cruise in the seventh, however, as Kemper committed three more errors and allowed the Flames three unearned runs.
The third and final error of the frame loaded the bases and put the winning run on for University Christian, but Harbour fanned the next batter to end the threat.
McCarty finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs to lead Kemper's 10-hit attack, while Calvert had the two doubles, two runs and two RBIs.
Johnson was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run, Harbour had one hit and two runs scored and Whitaker had his double, one RBI and one run.
Cupps was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs to lead the Flames. Butts added two hits, two runs and one RBI, Jeremy Phillips was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Ross Myers had one hit and two runs.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.