Three things are becoming a certainty in Tate County: death, taxes and Magnolia Heights baseball competing for a state championship.
It’s a standard that has been set by coach Chris McMinn and it’s one that the Chiefs followed through on once more, as MHS took down Copiah Academy last week in two games of a best-of-three series.
Magnolia Heights hosted the Colonels in Game 1 of the series last Tuesday, defeating Copiah Academy 5-1, before traveling south to take an 8-2 victory on the road, clinching the program’s 12th state championship and the ninth title in the last 11 seasons.
Both teams were scoreless in the series opener through an inning and a half last Tuesday, until the Chiefs’ opened up a three-run bottom of the first. With two outs and a pair of runners on base, Larson Ingram delivered a single up the middle to drive in Drew Prosek from second for the first MHS run. Ethan Coley followed that up with a single to center to plate another pair of Chiefs’ runs, before Coley was thrown out at second trying to advance.
Once again facing two outs in the bottom of the third, Magnolia Heights was able to expand on its lead with a solo homer to left field by Ethan Melton, stretching the Chiefs’ advantage to 4-0.
Copiah Academy got on the board with two outs in the top of the fourth, delivering an RBI-single. However, the Chiefs promptly responded in the bottom of the inning, as an RBI-double from Will McClure made it a 5-1 lead for MHS.
Although the Chiefs would go scoreless over the next two frames, pitcher Caleb Doty finished things up for MHS, tossing a six-strikeout, complete-game effort to secure the 5-1 win. The Chiefs finished with six hits in the contest, led by Melton’s 2-for-3 effort.
J.D. Weed compiled two of the three hits for Copiah Academy, while Drake Bayles threw all six innings for the Colonels, collecting three strikeouts against one walk.
Friday’s second game of the series started off with a scoreless draw after the first two innings. Copiah Academy eventually took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third, feeding off the energy from its home crowd in a do-or-die contest.
However, the Colonels’ lead quickly evaporated in the top half of the fourth inning, as MHS tacked on four runs. A leadoff walk to Cooper Pratt got things started for the Chiefs, followed by an RBI-double from Prosek. Following a pair of hit-by-pitches to Jackson Jenkins and Keondre Fields to load the bases, MHS took a 2-1 lead as the Colonels issued a walk to McClure.
Magnolia Heights did not stop the scoring there, as a passed ball plated another run and a double from Ingram sent home another Chiefs’ runner, pushing the score to a 4-1 advantage.
A quiet fifth inning soon gave way to another big frame in the top of the sixth, as Magnolia Heights sent three runs across the plate. A one-out single from Jenkins was followed up by a RBI-single from Fields, pushing the lead to 5-1. MHS added two more runs on a sacrifice bunt from Ingram and an RBI-single from Cole Prosek, giving the Chiefs a comfortable 7-1 lead.
Drew Prosek gave the Chiefs one last parting shot in the top of the seventh, delivering an RBI-single for an 8-1 advantage. The Colonels tried for a seven-run rally in the home half of the inning, but were only able to score one run against Pratt, who went the distance on the mound to wrap up another state championship for Magnolia Heights.
Pratt threw seven strikeouts with no walks surrendered, allowing only one earned run. The Chiefs finished with nine hits in the contest, led by two apiece from McClure and Cole Prosek.
With the sweep, Magnolia Heights concludes the 2022 season at 26-4 overall. The Chiefs also ran through the MAIS playoffs without a single loss, sweeping Winston Academy, East Rankin Academy and Starkville Academy prior to taking the championship series over Copiah Academy.