CORINTH – In a battle of two county rivals, the Kossuth Aggies finished off their third-round sweep on Saturday night against Alcorn Central with an 8-2 win at the Corinth Baseball Complex.
Kossuth (24-4) heads to the Class 3A North half finals for the first time since winning the state championship in 2016 to play a familiar rival in Amory (28-4), who they met in the third round last season.
“We knew Alcorn Central was going to come out fired up like it always is with them and us,” Kossuth coach Garison Lathrop said. “They were able to strike first, and Hunter (Hutchens) did a good job of pitching around some early adversity. Ashton (Knight) had the big blow in the second inning and killed their momentum. That’s been the theme with us all year long is who can throw the big punch, and Ashton did it on Saturday.”
Alcorn Central (18-15) took an early 1-0 lead on a Landon Powers RBI single after Andrew Williams drew a walk leading off, moved to second on Jackson Miller’s sacrifice bunt and stole third.
Eli Hinton hit a double down the left field line leading off Kossuth’s second inning, and Rylan Henry sacrificed him over to third.
Knight delivered with his two-out, two-run blast to go up 2-1, a lead the Aggies would not relinquish.
“Ashton squared the ball up all night with two hits and also a sacrifice fly,” Lathrop said. “It’s good to see him have a good day. I think he’s comfortable hitting down there in the bottom of the lineup just like Jack (Johnson). I definitely like my seniors down there at the bottom because it seems like they come up in big situations.”
The Bears threatened in the next inning with a leadoff double from Reed Johnson, but Hutchens was able to work around it with a pair of strikeouts. Central also put two on in the third with one-out hits from Miller and Powers.
The Aggies opened their lead to 3-1 in the fourth after a double from Henry, a single from Johnson and a sac fly from Knight.
Two walks to Hank Eaton and Reid Coward and a costly Bears error put them up 5-1 in the fifth.
Alcorn Central fought back for their final run in the bottom of the inning. Williams smashed a double leading off, and Miller moved him to third with his second hit of the night.
Powers drove in both of the Bears’ runs on the night as he hit a sac fly to plate Williams and cut it to 5-2.
Four walks and a Bryson Jackson base hit in the top of the seventh added plenty of insurance runs for the Aggies. Johnson and Knight had RBIs on bases-loaded walks, and Logan Williams added a sac fly.
Hutchens retired the Bears in order in the seventh, finishing the night allowing two earned runs on seven hits, two walks and striking out eight.
“I think his competitiveness was just working for him when he didn’t really have all three pitches he’s used to having control of,” Lathrop said. “He wasn’t around the zone like he normally is, but he competed all seven innings and got outs and made pitches when he needed to. I think he found a feel for his curveball late in the game.”
Kossuth opens its North half series on the road on Tuesday night. With Amory’s field destroyed in the March tornado, Game 1 will be at Hamilton at 6 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to it. Last year, I felt like it was really the state title between the two of us in that series, and we want another shot at it,” Lathrop said. “What stands out about them is their aggressiveness. Everyone I have talked to said they are really aggressive at the plate. We know they can swing it, and they have a couple of really good arms to throw in there. I told the guys last year, it felt like David vs. Goliath, and this year, it feels more like Goliath vs. Goliath. I think the two teams match up well, and we expect there to be a big crowd both here and there.”
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