By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Despite a solid six innings of work by starting pitcher Dylan Earnest, the Itawamba CC Indians looked just enough like a team playing its first game of the season.
And they were.
Indian errors aided a pair of runs, and the visiting Calhoun (Ala.) Warhawks came from behind Tuesday to edge ICC 4-2 in Game 1 of the season opener for the home team.
“Dylan pitched good enough to win, but we’ve got to swing the bats, put the ball in play,” said Itawamba head coach Rick Collier of his second-year freshman pitcher. “Getting just four hits and committing three errors is not the formula for a win, obviously.”
The day looked promising for the Indians in the first inning, as they tacked two runs up in the bottom half of the frame.
With two out, Dillon Mitchell of Fulton walked, and Pontotoc’s Jake Smithey reached on an error. That set the table for Amory’s Zack Randolph, as the Mississippi State signee delivered a double down the right field line to score both runners.
Earnest, from Hamilton, was pretty smooth through his first five innings of work.
Blemishes came in the top of the third when a run scored on two errors and an infield out. And also in the fourth when Hunter Kelley led off with a double, then scored with two out on an infield error.
While Earnest was handling Calhoun through five innings, Itawamba was missing some scoring chances. The Indians left base runners in scoring position in each of the next four innings, including a double by Tupelo’s Cody Shrewsbury in the fourth frame.
“Our approaches at the plate have got to get better,” Collier said. “Being the first game maybe had something to do with it, I could tell some of the players were uptight.”
Calhoun finally wore Earnest down in the sixth, with three straight hits with two outs, scoring a third run. Itawamba loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but failed to produce a run.
Itawamba 11, Calhoun 1: A Shrewsbury home run highlighted an 8-run second inning in Game 2. Landon Brister from Houston earned the victory on the mound for Itawamba (1-1).