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April 17, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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Y[5orter WE HAVE IT COVERED IF ITS PLAYED ) April 1Z 2019 MARY PERSONS BULLDOGS 478-992-9945 Hours: Mond~ - Friday, 9 am - 5:30 pm MP baseball squad needs pair of wins to clinch first region title since 2011 HOME CALENDAR wmc s Y, p 1HmsDAY, AmlL w. fmDAY, J Jt 19 4:00 p.m. Varsity Baseball (vs. Upson-Lee @ SunTrust Park in Atlanta) SATURDAY, APRIL 20 SUNDAY, APRIL 21 mNDAY, 22 TUESDAY, APRIL 23 p.m. Varsity Boys & Girls G01f (vs. Pike County @ River For- est Golf Club) o By Richard Dumas forsyfh@mymcr.net The Mary Persons Bulldogs inched ever closer to their first Region 2-AAAA title in eight years with a 5-2 road victory at Upson-Lee on Mon- da)n The Bulldogs, 21-7 overall (10-3 in Region 2-AAAA), likely need to win their final two regular season games to capture their first region championship since 2011 and only the third in program history. If MP, which is currently tied with West Laurens for first but controls the tiebreaker, wins either of its final two games, it will clinch at least second place in the region, which would guarantee its first home state playoff series in eight years. In Game i of a three-game series, MP scored four runs in the first two innings en route to a 5-0 lead. Although the Knights rebound- ed with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, MP held on for the easy win. MP's Nate Howard doubled in a pair of runs off of Upson-Lee starter Alex Blount in the top of the first to pace MP ace Trippe Moore to an early lead. Moore did the rest, scattering seven hits and two runs "We're just going to have to stay focused, know the goal and know what we want to do" Kite said. "Our destiny is ours. We pick what happens. If we want the region, we can go get it:' Perry scored the game's first run in the top of the first when ]ayden Chance hit a roller that deflected off of MP third baseman Jeremiah Andrews' glove into leftfield to plate Andrew Newhouse from second base. MP then answered back in the bottom of the second when Conner Watson roped a double down the third base line, scor- ing Howard and Andrews and giving the Dogs a 2-1 lead. The next hitter, Jaden Bankston, then completed a successful squeeze bunt, scor- ing Watson from third to put MP in front 3-1 against Perry starter Jackson Nipper. The Panthers tried to rally in the top of the fourth, but MP ended the threat with perhaps the Dogs' best defen- sive play of the season. Perry's Colby Dent doubled into the left-centerfield gap. MP centerfielder Moore fielded the ball bare-handed on one hop near the fence and quickly relayed to shortstop Snow. Snow then fired a mis- sile to catcher Alex Kite, who applied the tag at the plate on a sliding Chance, trying to score from first. The defen- sive heroics kept the Dogs , ahead 3-1, and then it was MP'S offenses turn to provide dramatics After two quick outs in the bottom of the fourth,/viP's Mary Persons junior slugger Nate Howard drove in MP'S first two runs in a 5-2 region road win at eighth and ninth place hit-;: Upson-Lee on Monday. The Bulldogs likely need to win their final two regular season games to wrap ters, Bankston and Thomas up the program's first region title in eight years. (Photo/Will Davis) Willingham respectively, each singled to extend the g three RBIs. and tum the batting order (both eamed) in a seven-inning complete game while striking out a season-high 12 and walking just one. Seven of MP's nine starters had a single hit in the game with Eric Snow and Camden Claxton also recording an RBI. Three nights earlier, on Frida the Bulldogs com- MP head coach Clae Mathis said of Friday's vic- tory: "I'm upset because I feel like we should have scored a lot more runs tonight. I also know that we hit about six or seven lasers that people caught. But it's a win. A win is a win at this point. We're still playing for something. Ifyou l have told me that pleted a 2-1 series victory over Perry with a 6-4 win we'd have been sitting at first place in the region in Game 3 in MP's final regular season home game. with three to play, Rt definitely have told you One of MP's three seniors, Claxton, recorded the love the opportuni . Because last year we were win on Senior Night, pitching 6 innings while giv- ing up 7 hits and 4 runs, 1 earned, while striking out 2 and walking 1. However, it was MP's youngest player, freshman Snow, who provided the game's biggest blast with a three-run homer in the fourth inning that turned a tight 3-1 MP lead into a 6-1 rout. Snow was the lone Bulldog with multiple hits, going 2-3 with watching. We just need one more win to guarantee third or better, but we're not settling for anything. We want to win it. Make no mistake about it. We know what we're playing for and we're trying to go get it right now." Senior Alex Kite said the Bulldogs are prepared to handle the pressure of trying to finish off a region title on the road. back over. Nipper then went to a full count on Snow before trying to sneak a fastbaU over the in- ner half of the plate. The freshman pounced on the mistake and belted it high over the leftfield fence to end Nippers night and give the Dogs a comfortable 6-1 lead. Mathis said of Snow's first career homer: "It was a no-doubter for sure. That's a big deal right there to get that out of here. Because at the end of the game you see stuffhappen, and we would've been in a mess if he didn't hit that out" Perry bounced back in the top of the sixth on an RBI double to straightaway center by Chance. The Panthers then further trimmed into MP's lead See MP BASEBALL Page 5B 0 By Richard Dumas forsyth@mymcr.net The Mary Persons boys and girls tennis teams were each slated to host Thomson in the first round of the AAAA state tournament on Tuesday after finishing second in Region 2-AAAA, The MP girls squad fell in the Re- gion 2-AAAA championship match for the third consecutive year on Thursday, losing 1-4 to West Laurens at John Drew Smith Tennis Center in Macon. It was the 1 lth straight year in which the Lady Raiders have captured the girls region title. Freshman sensation Becky Kenirey was the lone Lady Dog to win in the championship match, taking her match 6-1, 6-0. The Lady Dogs lost all four other matches in blowouts with No. 2 singles standout Jackie Gore falling 2-6, 1-6, No. 3 singles player Reagan Dorrity, falling 2-6, 0-6, No. I doubles tandem Emma Cantrell and Josey Allen losing 1-6, 1-6 and No. 2 doubles pair Karsin Bass and Anna Starr coming up short 0-6, 1-6. The Lady Dogs advanced to the championship match by virtue of a 4-0 demolition of Upson-Lee in the Region 2-AAAA semifinals earlier on Thursday. Kenirey and Gore both won every game as each player took her match 6-0. MP also got a pair of easy doubles wins with Cantrell and Allen prevailing 6-1, 6-0 and Bass and Starr also finishing on top 6-2, 6-0. Dorrity's No. 3 singles match was halted prematurely once MP clinched its spot in the finals. The Lady Dogs, 10-4 (5-2 in Region 2-AAAA), were next scheduled to host Thomson, the No. 3 seed from :.5 ; ': !: ': : ' The Mary Persons boys and girls tennis teams celebrated finishing runner-up for the third straight year at the Re- gion 2-AAAA tournament in Macon on Thursday. Both MP squads were slated to host Thomson in the first round of the AAAA state tourney on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo/Richard Dumas) Region 3-AAAA, in the first round of the state tournament starting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. If the MP girls win their first-round match, they will then face the winner of the first-round match between No. I seed Columbus and No. 4 seed Hampton. If Columbus wins, as expected, the Lady Dogs would go on the road for the second round. Meanwhile, in a mirror image scenario as the Lady Dogs, the MP boys tennis team placed runner-up in Region 2-AAAA for the third con- secutive year. The Bulldogs fell short 0-5 to West Laurens in the champion- ship match on Thursday at John Drew Smith Tennis Center. It was the third straight time the Bulldogs have been beaten by the Raiders in the finals with West Laurens taking its 1 lth handily. Preston Wilson fell 1-6, 1-6 while Caleb Wilson failed to win a game in a 0-6, 0-6 defeat. In doubles, MP's top paking of Tucker Melton and Brandon Carter lost 1-6, 1-6 while its No. 2 team of Jimbo Finch and Carter Justice was beaten 2-6, 2-6. region title in the past 13 years. Despite falling short once again to None of the championship matches West Laurens in both boys and girls, were close. MP's No. 1 singles stand- MP head coach Hannah Grossman out Micah Wilson lost 1-6, 0-6 while said she was proud of her squads' his two brothers, No. 2 singles player performances at region. . Preston Wilson and No. 3 singles '9,t the start of the season, I wasn't player Caleb Wilson also were beaten sure how it was going to go, but we just continued to get better and better each day,' Grossman said. "We looked awesome. We even looked great play- ing West Laurens in the champion- ship. They were a little bit better than we were today, but we're gonna put up a fight no matter what. Hopefully, we'll continue working and we can start something at the middle school where we can get things going a little bit earlier like West Laurens does" It was the Wilson trio that was responsible for MP reaching the finals as all three triplets were victorious in a 3-2 MP marathon victory over Upson-Lee earlier Thursday in the Region 2-AAAA semifinals. Caleb Wilson easily handled his No. 3 singles match 6-1, 6-3 to put the Dogs up 1-0. However, both MP doubles teams lost with Melton and Carter falling in three sets 6-1, 2-6, 1-6 and Finch and Justice losing in straight sets 3-6, 6-7 (7-9). That put the pressure on MP's top two singles players to deliver if the Dogs wanted to keep their chances of a region title alive. First, Micah Wilson came up big in a straight-sets, No. 1 singles classic, prevailing 6-4, 7-5. Then, on a neighboring court, Preston Wilson went the distance but came out on top in a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 No. 2 singles win that lasted well over tWO hours and provided MP's winning point. Grossman said she wasn't surprised that it took a heroic effort from her boys squad to reach the finals. "I knew coming in it was going to be tough" Grossman said. "People were asking me questions all week about how we were going to finish, and I told them, 'We've gotta worry See MP TENNIS. Page 6B I