By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Boxing history is filled with legendary rematches and epic trilogies.
From the No Mas Fight of Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Durán II, to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier three memorable battles, the Sweet Science is a round by round process. Nobody understand that mentality better than Brighton Cardinals Head Coach Mike Wickersham.
Entering Friday night’s home game against District 13-3A and Tipton County foe the Munford Cougars, Coach Wick wanted his players to put aside their 7-0 start and focus on earning a victory over the team that reached the 2017 Class 3A State Tournament.
The Cougars struck the first big blow by flashing the form that helped them reach State last year. In the second round Munford scored 4 runs. But the Cardinals paced themselves and hit a couple of haymakers in the mid rounds leading to a 16-8 decision.
“We talked about everything we’re doing being a heavyweight fight,” Coach Wick said. “We go round by round — win the round. I kept telling them ‘Win rounds. Win rounds. Win rounds.’ If we get to the seventh and we’re behind, then we know we need a knockout. There’s a process involved here.”
Munford Head Coach Scotty Yount’s bunch took advantage of Brighton miscues in the second inning to score a quartet of runs. Cougar Shane Cox singled in the first run of the night scoring AJ Hamblin.
Later in the frame when Riley Bampfield placed the ball into play, the Cardinals committed an error leading to a pair of runs.
Trailing 4-0, Wickersham had confidence in his team’s ability to comeback because in Brighton’s 7-0 start they have display knockout capability with 78 runs.
“We’ve have been swinging the bats,” he noted. “It’s something we’ve worked hard on all fall and winter. They would come into this building when it’s cold outside and they would just hit. We have a little different approach at the plate.
“We talked about it earlier, about how our mental approach is different,” Wickersham continued. “And you could tell in this game right here when we got down four runs. Their approach at the plate never changed. We didn’t try to overpower anything. We got a couple of them back. And then we hit them in the next inning.”
Brighton scored twice in the bottom of the second inning when Kimmey Johnson drove in a run with a base hit and Eli Davis walked with the bases loaded.
Munford won that round but the Cardinals would win the third round convincingly with 6 runs. Dylan Forbes and Johnson drove in runs with singles to make the tally 6-4. Next up to the plate was Davis. The Arkansas State signee stroked a double to drive in a pair of runners. Brighton was ahead 8-4 heading into the fourth inning.
Brighton starter Will Dunlap started to settle down and recorded a 1-2-3 fourth inning. The Cardinals were ahead 9-4 after four innings.
The Cougars tried to rally back with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. With the score 9-6, Brighton regrouped and bounced off the ropes with 6 runs in the fifth.
Davis had a big blow in the frame with a triple to score Johnson. Dunlap helped his own cause by driving in Davis with a single. Later in the fifth inning Brett Wilkins drove a double to the outfield for a couple of RBIs.
Both teams scored a run in the sixth inning but by the seventh inning Brighton had enough points to win on the scorecard.
The rematch between the two foes would take place the following afternoon at Munford. With both teams field solid squads with big bats, expect a third match up in May during districts.
“We’re going to see these guys often,” Wickersham said. “They’re going to be one of those teams there at the end. I feel like they got a chance and a shot of getting out. We’ve seen a lot of these teams in our Region, we talked about there is a good chance of getting two of us out of league into the Region.
“We’re a little stronger than people think we are over here in this district,” he concluded. “That team right there, we’re not going into there lightly. Coach Yount is going to have them ready.”
Brighton won Round Two 18-2 Saturday afternoon at Munford.