By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – After a frigid offensive performance on Friday, the Tupelo Golden Wave bats began to warm up Saturday.
Problem for the Wave was that the Saltillo Tigers were also shaking off some offensive rust.
Despite a three-run seventh inning by the Tigers, the Wave were able to hold for a 7-6 victory.
“We’re just trying to find that consistency on offense,” Tupelo coach Gary En’s said. “We want everyone one through nine making contact with the ball.
“Hopefully, we’ll get there next week.”
Home runs provided a significant part of the offense for both clubs.
Tupelo (4-1) got a timely shot from Ben Hudspeth in the top of the third inning, a three-run shot to centerfield that gave the Wave a 4-1 lead at the time. In the bottom of the seventh for the Tigers (1-6), Wesley Reed added some drama to the contest with a two-out, three-run homer down the left-field line.
Saltillo had entered the last inning trailing 7-3. Tupelo starter J. D. Roberts had worked a solid four-plus innings, then relieved by Ben Aldridge.
But in the seventh, Saltillo’s Chase Hill lined a shot off Aldridge, prompting the first appearance of the season on the mound by Tupelo’s Cody Shrewsbury. The first batter the Tupelo senior faced was Reed, who worked the count full, fouled off a couple of pitches, then yanked a Shrewsbury offering down the line to pull the Tigers within one run.
Shrewsbury then shook off some of his pitching rust and struck out the next Saltillo batter to end the contest.
“We had opportunities even before the seventh inning that we didn’t capitalize on,” said Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen, whose Tigers had picked up their first victory of the season earlier in the day with a 9-7 decision on the road against the Mooreville Troopers. “That’s when you need to do your damage.
“But I think this game was a confidence-builder for us.”
Besides his home run, Hudspeth added an RBI hit in the first inning. Shrewsbury and William Goss had RBI hits during the contest as well for Tupelo.
Adding to Saltillo’s offense, Kyle Young and Cosby Repult had run-scoring hits. And Saltillo starter Tyler Willis went all seven innings, scattering seven hits.
“Now we’ll get to see what kind of pitching depth we have,” Enis said. “We’ll have two games at ICC in a big park where pitchers should be throwing strikes, then two games on the road against Class 5A teams.
“Our pitchers have kept us in games this year so far, and I feel good about the pitchers we’ll throw out there next week.”
A marathon stretch of five games in six days for Tupelo begins at Itawamba Community College, where Tupelo will face Manatchie Monday and Houston Tuesday. Then the Wave will face Ridgeland Wednesday and Center Hill Thursday at Oxford.
Tupelo will then finish off the week Saturday, hosting Oxford.
n Linescore, Page 2B