To be the best you have to beat the best. Even though Quitman entered the Class B playoffs with the #1 ranking it was their regional round opponent, #16 Singer, that many said had the best pitcher in Class B. The University of Louisiana – Lafayette signee proved that he was good but on Tuesday he wasn’t the best.
That distinction went to Quitman ace, Ty Simonelli, who continued his knack of pitching his best games when faced with his strongest challenges. Simonelli struck out 12 and didn’t allow but one hit in six innings of work to lift Quitman to a hard fought 2-1 victory. The victory sets up a quarterfinal matchup where they will host #8 Pitkin at 2:00pm on Saturday at Quitman.
It was Singer who scored first when after Simonelli pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the second got touched up for a triple in the third. Simonelli responded by striking out the side in the top of the fourth and then helped his own cause by opening the bottom half of the inning with a single. Two stolen bases later Quitman head coach Joe Lockhart went old school calling for a bunt that Riley Duck perfectly executed to tie the game.
With the two aces treating the crowd at the Ruston High School field where the contest was played to a good old fashioned pitchers duel Cam Hollis opened the bottom of the fifth with a single before being forced at second on a grounder by Kyler West. That brought up leadoff batter Luke Morgan, who stroked a grounder into left that resulted in West ending up on third and Morgan on second with his second double of the day.
It is not often in today’s brand of baseball that a coach has the opportunity to put his stamp on the outcome but Lockhart knew that with the way both pitchers were throwing that a run may well decide the game. So, with their being only one out Lockhart once again went to the school of “small ball.” Simonelli did hit part and West raced in under the tag to give Quitman the deciding run.
Singer mounted a threat in the top of the sixth after a tiring Simonelli hit a batter and issued a walk but then the recent Bossier Parish Community College signee bowed up and got the next two batters out. Knowing his ace was pitching on sheer guts and determination on the hot and humid afternoon, Lockhart then bourght in Ian Tilley to close out the game. Tilley responded by striking out the first two batters. Then things got dicey again as the Quitman reliever hit a batter bringing Hess, Singer’s best hitter to the plate. Lockhart then made a gutsy move by intentionally walking Hess that put the tying run on second but Tilley rewarded the decision by inducing a pop up to short sending Singer home and Quitman into the quarterfinals.
The victory sets up a quarterfinal matchup where they will host #8 Pitkin, who beat #9 Elizabeth 10-1 to advance, in a contest later this week at a date yet to be determined.
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