By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
OLIVE BRANCH – Tyler Beaty may have forgotten his cap, but most important for the New Albany High baseball team: He didn’t forget to show up on Tuesday night.
The senior right-hander struck out 12 and allowed just two hits to lead the Bulldogs past Lewisburg, 10-1, and into the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs.
“It wouldn’t be Tyler Beaty if something like that didn’t happen,” coach John Walker said about his lanky pitcher leaving his hat behind in New Albany. “He’s a really special baseball player, and he’s a special person to this program.
“He did a really good job tonight, and he’s continued to do well all year.”
Borrowing freshman Dalton Hall’s hat – “his running buddy’s,” says Walker – Beaty (8-3) hit three batters and walked two but was still able to have plenty of control to strike out at least two batters in every inning except for the first and sixth innings.
He escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the bottom of the fourth by striking out two batters and getting the third out on a pop fly to him to the right of the mound.
“In Game 1, I thought he threw more fastballs and his breaking ball was not as good,” Patriots coach Rusty Cagle said of the pitcher who won Games 1 and 3 against his club. “Tonight, his breaking ball was better and he had trouble locating his fastball.
“So, I thought he did a good job of realizing what he had that night (Friday) and tonight, and he threw it. He’s a good pitcher. He’s an upper 80s (MPH) kid with a decent breaking ball.”
While Cagle couldn’t be more proud of his starter, Tanner Densford (6-4), for bouncing back well after giving up 13 earned runs in three innings of Friday’s Game 1 loss, he was disappointed in his team’s defense behind him.
The Patriots’ D committed eight errors on Tuesday, with seven of those coming in the sixth and seventh innings when the Bulldogs scored nine of their 10 runs to break open a 1-1 ballgame.
You still have to give the New Albany hitters credit for making contact and putting pressure on the Lewisburg fielders. Leadoff hitter Taylor Goode had two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored, including the first of the game on a steal of home off a double steal in the opening frame.
Mason Maxey had two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, while ninth-place hitter Joshua Googe had two singles, two RBIs and scored once.
“We hit him well the other night,” Walker said of Densford, Lewisburg’s Game 1 starter. “He was a lot better tonight.
“He did a good job of what I call ‘stealing strikes,’ with the breaking ball early in the count. It was a breaking ball that I felt like we could hit, but we just didn’t for whatever reason.
“He did a good job. He really did.”
Walker will again have to deal with Densford, who’s only a junior, next year in division games when the two teams will both be members of Division 2-4A.