By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
Poplarville catcher Jonathan Goodwin hit in the clean-up spot for the Hornets for the first time in his career Friday night.
The sophomore made it a memorable debut.
Goodwin ripped a two-out, full count, bases-loaded pitch into right field in the bottom of the seventh for a two-run single to hand the Hornets a 3-2 win over visiting Columbia in the opening round of the Class 4A South State playoffs.
The win gives Poplarville a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, and Mississippi State signee Zac Houston will take the mound at 1 p.m., today in Columbia with a chance to close the series out. A third and final game, if needed, will take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two.
Columbia entered the bottom of the last frame with a 2-1 lead, but pinch-hitter Hayden Freeman gave the Hornet a lift with a one-out single. After another out, Justin Oliver drew a walk and then Houston was given an intentional pass after a wild pitch put runners at second and third to set up Goodwin’s late game heroics.
“I was just trying to hit it hard and put it in play somewhere,” Goodwin, who was inserted into the fourth hole by head coach J.J. Fortune, said.
The winning hit came after Wildcat starter Dequwan Morris left the game with a 2-0 count to Goodwin after injuring his arm.
Reliever Bryson Madeas then worked the count full before surrendering the line shot over the second baseman’s head.
“Luke had performed well in our two strike situation in practice yesterday, so I thought that moving him into the four hole would be beneficial,” Fortune, whose team is now 16-11, said. “He had proved that he had the right two strike approach that we teach.”
Columbia, who finished second in Division 6-4A, took a 1-0 lead off Poplarville starter Blake Ladner in the top of the first on an RBI-single by Madeas.
The Hornets knotted things up at 1-1 in the second, when Austin Smith walked and then later stole home.
The Wildcats went up 2-1 in the fifth when Dontae Peters doubled and then scored on a passed ball when Goodwin allowed a Ladner pitch to get past him.
Goodwin, however, would redeem himself in the final at bat with hiss walk-off two run single.
Ladner took the win, to move to 6-2 on the season. He allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out five in the complete game performance.
Goodwin and Chandler Ray each had two hits apiece for the Hornets.
The winner of this series faces West Lauderdale beginning Thursday in the next round.