Five-run first inning lifts HMS Tigers over Merryville Panthers

MERRYVILLE _ Payton Kellebrew tossed another gem as the 10th seeded Hanson Memorial Tigers hammered the No. 26 seed Merryville Panthers 12-1 in six innings in the State Class 1-A regional contest here Tuesday at Leonard Field.

“We got good pitching from Payton Kellebrew and I was impressed with our aggressive style of hitting,” Hanson Coach Ryan Stoute said. “Our defense continues to be sound…we must continue doing the same things we have been doing over the last three weeks.”

Hanson (21-9) posted its 10th consecutive victory, including back-to-back State Class 1A playoff triumphs with wins over Haynesville (11-1) and Merryville (12-1).

Hanson advances to quarterfinal action on the road at the No. 2 seeded Mangham on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Kellebrew turned in a masterful performance, silencing the Panther batters, allowing only one run on two hits with one strikeout and three walks over six complete innings. Kellebrew outdueled Merryville’s Corey Cantrel, who suffered the loss. Cantrel lasted five innings, giving up 12 runs on 10 hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Kellebrew fired 79 pitches over six innings, facing 25 batters while throwing 47 strikes and 25 balls.

Hanson Memorial served notice early to Merryville with a five-run explosion in the first inning in a game which was played under dark skies with a brief period of rain and a lightning delay. The Tigers added one run in the fourth frame and six more in the sixth for the 12-1 victory.

Hanson’s Bo Barrilleaux led-off the game with a single over third base before Drake Businelle followed with a double to deep centerfield, putting runners in scoring position. Cameron Stovall plated both Barrilleaux and Businelle with a two-run single, lifting HMS outfront by a 2-0 cushion. After stealing second base, Stovall moved to third when Payton Kellebrew beat out a throw to first on an infield single before leaving for pinching runner Luke Rodriguez. Garrett Burns lined a sacrifice before Jacob Hebert smacked a two-run double, plating Stovall and Rodriguez. Brandon Bonin delivered Hebert with an RBI-single, giving the Hanson Tigers a 5-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.

Only two Merryville runners reached base over the first four innings before Kellebrew’s defense came to his rescue. When Merryville’s Seth Powell Nick Ardoin reached on close plays at first base, Hanson third baseman Josh Sanchez turned defensive in tagging a runner on the third base path before ending the rally with the third out after gloving a sharp liner and touching third base.

Barrilleaux and Businelle teamed up for one run in the top of the fourth frame, giving HMS a 6-0 advantage.

With two outs, Barrilleaux lined an infield single before scoring on a Businelle’s single which rolled to the left field fence.

In the top half of the sixth inning, Hanson scored six times during a brief rain shower and lightning delay.

Hebert led off the inning with a single before Bonin walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Kade James. Josh Sanchez loaded the bases when his bunt was dropped by Merryville pitcher Cantrel.

Barrilleaux lined a perfectly placed single up the middle scoring Hebert as HMS jumped ahead by a 7-0 advantage. Businelle plated James and Sanchez on a two-run single as HMS led 9-0. Stovall lined a single to score Barrilleaux, giving HMS a 10-0 score. With Businelle at third, Stovall at second, pinch-hitter Bryce Ronsonet was hit by a pitch, loading the bases before a streak of lightning sent both teams to the dugouts.

When play resumed the Tigers tacked on two additional runs while the Panthers collected one run as Hanson notched the 12-1 victory.

Hanson’s Barrilleaux reached in two of his three plate appearances with three runs and one RBI. Businelle was 3 for 4 with a double, two RBI, two runs and three stolen bases. Stovall went 1 for 4 with two runs, two RBI and a pair of stolen bases. Jacob Hebert was 2 for 4 with a double, two runs and one RBI. Brandon Bonin went 1 for 1 with one RBI. Josh Sanchez was 1 for 3 with one run while Payton Kellebrew and Garrett Burns each drove in one run on sacrifice flies while Luke Rodriguez and Kade James each scored one run.

No. 10 Hanson Memorial will now travel to face No. 2 seed Mangham in the State Class 1-A quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Monroe.

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