Cathedral High School senior catcher Zach Flattmann felt he had his best round of batting practice Wednesday night at Trip Carson Field.
Unfortunately for Heritage Academy, Flattmann kept up his hitting display during the game.
Flattmann’s two-run home run kick-started the scoring in Cathedral’s 6-0 victory against Heritage Academy 6-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three series in the second round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoffs.
“I really felt great getting off the bus,” Flattmann said. “I was seeing the ball so well during BP, and that made me pretty psyched for the game. When you are catching (pitcher Sam Parker), you know it’s going to be a great night. Then the way I felt in BP pretty much put me over the top.”
The best-of-three series moves to Natchez at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for Game 2. If needed, Game 3 would follow approximately 30 minutes after the first game.
Despite only getting three hits against Parker, Heritage Academy coach Bruce Branch feels his club will be ready to compete and play a long day of baseball Saturday.
“We talked to our guys about how the little things can separate teams in the playoffs,” said Branch, whose team slipped to 17-9. “We had one error in the game, but it took place two batters before the home run. We are facing an excellent team, so the margin for error is small. Obviously, you have to score to win the game.
“We weren’t able to put anything together against a really quality pitcher. However, that is the game, and that is why you play a series. We just have to be ready to play Saturday and be ready to play a more perfect game.”
Cathedral coach Craig Beesley sighed a deep breath of relief after the home run cleared the trees beyond the left-field wall in the third inning.
“When you have a long road trip, you really expect to start slow,” Beesley said. “You wait for that one good thing to happen on offense. Once that thing happens, you feel good about your chances. We pitched it and defended it well. Our job was to go out there and get some runs. We did that early, and that was really important.”
Cathedral (20-3) scored twice in the third and fourth and added singles scores in the sixth and seventh. That was more than enough for Smith, a senior right-hander who stayed in the mid 80s and filled the strike zone the entire night.
“(Parker) isn’t going to overpower you, but he is going to consistently stay in the strike zone,” Branch said. “That was the scouting report we had going in, and he lived up to every word of it. We have had some struggles generating offense at times this season. In this game, we had (eight) strikeouts, and that’s just too many. Those are non-productive outs, and it really hurt us.”
Parker walked one and needed 82 pitches to complete the game, enhancing the chances he could be used Saturday.
“We knew this was an important game to get because we were on the road,” Parker said. “I really have confidence in my defense, so it was just a matter of throwing strikes and not getting too excited. This was a great way for us to get started.”
Heritage Academy senior Thomas Cooper pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed 11 hits and six runs. He walked two and struck out three strikeouts.
“Thomas pitched well and gave us a chance,” Branch said. “It’s impossible to win if you can’t score runs. The last couple of weeks we have struggled to score runs. Saturday is a new day, though, and we have another chance. The kids will be ready to compete because our season rides on it.”
Andrew Beesley, Brock Farmer, Jacob Jenkins, and Flattmann each had multiple hits for the Green Wave.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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