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Andrew Knight strikes out 10 as No. 2 Sumrall clinches Region 7-4A with 3-0 win over Purvis

The senior was dominant, throwing first-pitch strikes to 19 out of 23 Purvis hitters
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PURVIS – Sumrall has ridden its stellar pitching to what is thus far an undefeated record and a place in the national rankings.

In the first of a two-game series to conclude the Region 7-4A schedule, Purvis got a first-hand look at possibly the best of the many talented arms on the Bobcat pitching staff in a 3-0 shutout Tuesday night at Tony Farlow Field.

Senior right-hander Andrew Knight took a perfect game into the fifth inning and smothered the Tornadoes on just two singles, neither of which left the infield.

Sumrall (22-0 overall), the No. 2 team in SB Live Mississippi's Power 10 Rankings, clinched another region championship with the victory; Purvis (16-5) remained in second place in the region at 6-3, thanks to Columbia’s victory over Poplarville, also Tuesday.

“Before the season starts, we get in the locker room and hash out our goals, and winning the division is one of them,” said Sumrall coach Andy Davis. “We obviously want to do more than that, but our ticket is punched.”

Knight, the youngest of former Bobcat coach Larry Knight’s three sons, was all but unhittable against Purvis. He struck out 10 and went to a three-ball count just three times, the first two resulting in outs, the third leading to the Tornadoes’ first hit.

“He is a straight bulldog on the mound,” said Davis. “When I think about him, I think about the engine inside, and tonight he had a V-8.

“He’d been struggling a little bit, working on some pitches, and we gave him last week off to get his mind back right. But I told him, big time players step up in big-time games.”

Knight improved to 6-0 for the season and lowered his earned-run average to 1.22.

“My curveball was there, my fastball was there as well,” said Knight. “But I mainly relied on my curveball to get strikeouts.”

A big key was getting the first pitch in a at-bat for a strike. Of the 23 batters Knight faced, he started 19 of them off with strikes.

“The most important thing you can to is get ahead (in the count),” Knight said. “When you’re working from behind, they pretty much know what’s coming. If you can get ahead, it keeps them guessing and they’re not sure what’s coming next.”

Purvis freshman right-hander Jacob Parker matched Knight for three innings. He pitched around a one-out single to Sumrall junior Landon Holliman in the top of the first inning and a one-out walk in the second.

A throwing error with out in the third was erased when Tornado freshman catcher Ethan Walker threw out the runner at second base.

But just as Parker completed his warm-up throws for the top of the fourth inning, a lightning strike approximately four miles north of the field resulted in a 36-minute delay, and another set of warm-up throws.

Parker got one out on a hard hit ball to centerfield from senior Marshall Phillips, then lost command of the strike zone. It seemed apparent that the big freshman was affected by the delay.

Three walks loaded the bases before Farlow brought in senior Walker Flatt from centerfield to take over on the mound.

Flatt gave up another walk, to junior Barrett Breazeale, to bring home a run, but got back-to-back called third strikes to wriggle off the hook and keep it a one-run game.

“Obviously, I think he was (effected by the delay),” said Purvis coach Tony Farlow. “He was throwing pretty dang good before the delay, then he came out and walked three in a row. I guess the delay hurt him, but the bottom line is you can’t walk four in a row against Sumrall.”

Purvis finally got a baserunner in the bottom of the fifth, after Knight struck out the first two batters in the inning.

Flatt worked a full count then hit a high chopper that just got over Knight’s head. Holliman at second base gloved the ball but was unable to make a throw, and Flatt was credited with an infield single.

Knight shrugged off the loss of the perfect game and the no-hitter with a three-pitch strikeout to end the inning.

“I didn’t want to catch it and make a bad throw or fall down, something like that,” said Knight. “I trust my defense to make plays; that’s what they’re there for. But that was just a tough play all around.”

Knight redeemed himself in the field to end a 1-2-3 sixth with a leaping grab of a high bouncing ball off the bat of freshman Jo Jo Parker and a strike to first for the out.

The Bobcats gave Knight some insurance in the top of the seventh with a pair of unearned runs.

Breazeale drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. Flatt got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but an error at first base off the bat of senior Cade Dedeaux allowed Breazeale to score from second. Holliman followed with a run-scoring single for a 3-0 lead.

“We knew the first guy they brought out there was going to bring it,” said Holliman. “He’s a young guy, but he’s got a lot of talent. We knew that we were going to have to come in here and put up a good show against these guys.

“Whenever I have an 0-2 count, I usually choke up on the bat a little bit, get on the plate a little bit and just try to hit the ball as best I can.”

Senior Kevin Krummel led off the bottom of the seventh with a hot grounder up the middle that shortstop Phillips knocked down but couldn’t make a play on. A wild pitch moved Krummel to second and a groundout to the right moved the runner over to third.

But Knight got a strikeout and routine grounder to second to finish off the victory.

“That’s what worried us coming into the series was the arms that they have,” Farlow said. “He was pretty dominant. We would have loved to have put more balls in play to see what would have happened, but we didn’t do that.”

Farlow said he will send sophomore right-hander Ethan Williamson (4-0) to the mound in Thursday’s return match in the two-game series, scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start.

On the other hand, Davis said he was undecided on who he will start on Thursday, but with a team ERA now of 1.38, he has a wealth of riches to choose from.

“Don’t have a clue,” Davis said. “I’m going to sleep on it. We’ve got Levi (Odom), Marshall (Phillips), Brysen (Smith), we’ve got a bunch of them.”