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Holdiness’ walk-off hit lifts Warren Central over Tupelo in Game 1

Two late-inning comebacks and one memorable hit gave Warren Central the upper hand against Tupelo.

Hank Holdiness hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday night to give Warren Central a 4-3 win in Game 1 of its first-round MHSAA Class 6A baseball playoff series with the Golden Wave.

The Vikings (18-9) rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning of Game 1, and again after Tupelo took the lead in the top of the seventh.

Alan Kivett hit an RBI single and Shane Lewis a solo home run to key the first rally. Kivett also walked three times and scored the game-winning run.

Hunter Elliott hit an RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to put Tupelo ahead again, 3-2, but Warren Central had one last rally in it.

After loading the bases with one out — on three walks, one of them intentional — Caleb Sterling hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Holdiness then ripped a single to left field for the game-winner.

Holdiness’ hit was only the fourth of the game for Warren Central. It only had one in the first four innings, but took advantage of eight walks by Tupelo’s pitchers. Leadoff man Wesley Ricks walked twice and scored two runs. Seven of the eight walks were issued to the Nos. 1-4 batters in the lineup.

Peyton Puckett hit two doubles for Tupelo (14-9), including one in the fifth inning that gave the Golden Wave a 2-0 lead.

Only one of Tupelo’s runs was earned, as Warren Central committed five errors. Starting pitcher Farmer Abendroth allowed two unearned runs on two hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Warren Central can close out the series and advance to the second round by winning Game 2 Saturday at 2 p.m. at Tupelo. If a Game 3 in the best-of-three series is needed, it will be back at Warren Central Monday at 2 p.m.

The loser of this series will end a long streak. Tupelo has reached the second round of the playoffs every year since 2013. Warren Central has gotten that far every year since 2015.