By Todd Vinyard
NEW ALBANY Location, location and location.
Besides being the three things you need when opening a restaurant, it was how junior pitcher Joel Ward lifted New Albany to a 12-2 win Saturday over Itawamba Agricultural High School.
Ward struck out six while only allowing two hits in going the distance. Instead of blowing IAHS away with heat Ward ambushed the Indians with curve balls as the No. 10 ranked large school in the Daily Journal poll (New Albany) beat the No. 5 ranked team (IAHS).
“He kept us off balance all night,” IAHS coach Brian Long said.
While IAHS tried to hit Ward, his Bulldog teammates were manufacturing runs.
Ryan Criddle scored first for New Albany in the bottom of the first off a Josh Foreman sacrifice. New Albany went up 2-0 in the second after Eli Whiteside singled, stole a base, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored when Jody Walls grounded out.
New Albany coach Buddy Hall said his team’s aggressive play on the base paths has helped put their offense on track.
“We are starting to come around after a slow start,” said Hall, whose team is now 10-8. “We like to put pressure on the defense by looking for the extra base.”
The Bulldogs jumped out in the third inning with four runs on six hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles by right fielder Foreman and designated hitter Justin Hollis. Then they turned the game over to Ward, who had retired eight straight Indians.
IAHS got on the board in the top of the fourth with a Grant Martin double to score Jamie Rock. Two outs later, Martin touched the plate after a New Albany throwing error.
Ward helped his cause with a nice defensive play to throw out a runner to end the inning.
“It is easy to pitch when our big bats are going,” Ward said.
Ward got his bat going in the fifth with a single. He then scored one of the three runs which ended the game with the 10-run rule.
Long said his team was tired after winning two out of three big Division 1-4A games this week. IAHS beat Hernando 10-8 earlier Saturday. They shut out Alcorn Central 6-0, and lost 2-1 to Tishomingo County earlier in the week.
The Indians are now 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the Division.
“Overall, I am pleased with the week,” Long said.
New Albany 12, IAHS 2
IAHS 000 020 2 2 3
New Albany 114 33 12 13 3
WP – Joel Ward. LP – Justin Comer. Multiple Hits – (N) Ryan Criddle 2, John Moffitt 2, Eli Whiteside 2, Brett Owen 2; 2B – (I) Grant Martin; (N) Josh Foreman, Justin Hollis, Whiteside, Brett Owen. Records: New Albany 10-8, IAHS 9-4.
Notes: Joel Ward threw 69 pitches over the first four innings. IAHS star Jamie Rock lipped around after beating out an infield single in the fourth, but scored later. IAHS coach Brian Long said Rock will be okay.