NEW HOPE – In a game where a pitching clinic was put on, one swing of the bat provided the fireworks.
New Hope's Tee Payne hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Trojans to a 4-0 win over Starkville in Class 5A state playoffs Friday night at Trojan Field.
With two outs, a full count and the bases loaded, Payne took the 3-2 offering from Starkville's Nick Brooks and hit over the left field fence.
"It's just one of those things," SHS head coach Danny Carlisle said. "He hit it good. A grand slam or a single, it doesn't matter."
Brooks fell behind Payne 3-1, but battled back for the ultimate pay off pitch.
"On the 3-1 count, the coaches told me 'to take it,'" Payne said. "On the 3-2 pitch, I just saw the pitch and put a good swing on it."
The inning started out with a walk and a hit batter. A sacrifice bunt and a strikeout made it two outs with runners on second and third. Carlisle elected to walk Taylor Stafford to load the bases.
"The guy we walked had a base hit," Carlisle said. "We got (Payne) out three times. We just thought we could get (Payne) out. We thought he might try for the long ball and pop it up again."
Other than the grand slam, Brooks had a solid night on the mound. He gave up only three hits and struck out seven batters.
"He did an outstanding job on the mound," Carlisle said. "We didn't give him any run support. He pitched his butt off and we don't do anything offensively. We got folks striking out three times."
The Trojans sent Landon Boyd to the mound. He pitched all seven innings and gave up only two hits. He struck out nine batters.
The Yellowjackets (21-8) had their chances but were unable to cash in.
Maybe the best chance for SHS to score came in the fifth inning. Harper Day led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Max Bartlett. He later moved to third on a strike three that went in the dirt.
Nathan Pugh batted with two outs and Day on third, but he struck out swinging to end the threat.
"He threw some good stuff," Pugh said. "We got ourselves out. We were swinging at pitches that weren't strikes."
For New Hope (23-7), Boyd and Stafford accounted for the other two hits.
Along with nine-hole hitter Day, eight-hole hitter Victor Johnson got the other Jacket hit.
These two teams are back in action today for game two. It is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Yellowjacket Stadium, Carlisle Field. Pugh gets the start on the mound for the Jackets.
"I'm real excited," Pugh said. "We are going to bounce back (today)."