By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
ECRU – North Pontotoc was three outs away from revenge Friday night.
Instead, the Vikings suffered a second straight disappointing loss to Division 1-4A rival Itawamba AHS, 5-3, at North Pontotoc’s Zane Hale Field.
The visiting Indians, who entered the top of the seventh inning trailing 3-1, scored four runs off Vikings starter Kyle Robbins on a pair of two-run singles by Ryan Reese and Tanner Wallace.
Reese’s hit tied the score while Wallace’s shot to left center field gave the Indians the lead.
“It was a fastball, high and inside,” the IAHS second baseman and leadoff batter said of his game-winning hit. “It was just a matter of us believing in each other.”
North Pontotoc (15-2, 4-2) had lost 2-1 earlier in the week, Tuesday, to the Indians (8-8, 4-2) in Fulton.
“Our kids battled,” IAHS coach Brian Long said. “I thought (Robbins) did a great job the first six innings, but our kids never changed. They waited and got big hits with runners in scoring position.”
Robbins, a senior left-hander, recorded 13 strikeouts and two-hit IAHS for six innings. His coach, Chad Anthony, was comfortable with leaving his star on the hill.
“He threw a great game, he’s a competitor,” Anthony said. “He was throwing well at the end. To their credit, they put the ball in play.”
North Pontotoc didn’t help its pitcher at the plate, stranding 10 base runners, including three in a two-run first inning.
“We put a lot of pressure on Kyle. We can’t expect him to win every game 1-0, 2-1,” Anthony added.
IAHS got 52/3 innings from its starter, left-hander Cole Haynes. He gave way to reliever Tyler Thomas, who pitched to one batter in the sixth to get the win.
Maikhail Miller, the winning pitcher Tuesday, came on in the seventh inning to nail down the save.
“I thought I pitched as well as I could,” Haynes said. “I’ve just got to finish. I had some trouble early getting used to the mound, but I got settled in.”
North Pontotoc took a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles from Robbins and Brandon Davis. However, the Vikings, who reached Haynes for four hits in the inning, exited with the bases full.
The Indians cut North Pontotoc’s lead to 2-1 in the second on Shante Rogers’ solo home run off Robbins.
Rogers also had a single and scored in the Indians’ go-ahead seventh inning.