by Hunter Dawkins
Despite canceling the game Friday night due to weather, the Long Beach Bearcats proved there was no real match in the Saturday morning doubleheader against Forest Hill for the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) First Round Playoff at Mike Rutledge Field. Tossing two consecutive shutouts 20-0 and 22-0, Long Beach (10-15, 6-3) advanced to play highly ranked West Jones in the second round of the 5A Playoffs.
With Bearcats Senior Drake Hogue starting the first game, the Forest Hill Patriots struck-out twice and grounded out to end the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Bearcats quickly jumped on the scoreboard by putting ten runs on the scoreboard with multiple hits by Long Beach players Cade Crosby and Logan Sutherlin.
The next inning had much of the same results. Forest Hill got one base-runner off of a walk, but did not advance or cross the plate.
Once the Bearcats came to the plate at the bottom of the second inning, the game was virtually over. Long Beach scored 10 runs again, including a three-run homer by Bearcats Senior Center Fielder Matthew Hertzog.
After Hogue struck out the side in the top of the third inning, the first game was called by MHSAA Mercy Rule.
Following the first game, Bearcats Junior Kobe Cook took the mound shortly after the completion. Although Cook did allow a baserunner in the first, he struck out three after the hit.
Cook then helped himself at the plate by hitting a left field double, which brought in two runs. As the Patriots collapsed allowing these runs, four more runs and ten walks caused a 16-0 Long Beach lead after one inning completed.
Long Beach Head Baseball Coach Shane Rutledge decided to bring in some younger players in with Freshman Gage Williams going to the mound. Williams did not disappoint, retiring three quick outs in the top of the second and striking out the side to end the game after the Bearcats put six more runs to secure the victory.
The Bearcats will play District 5-5A Champion West Jones (21-5) at 7pm on the road. Then, Long Beach will return home to play against the Mustangs at Mike Rutledge Field.