By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
FULTON – A battle between Monroe County rivals, each a defending North champion with an SEC signee, went the way of Hamilton on Friday afternoon in the ICC High School Challenge.
Against Amory, Lions’ Ole Miss signee Chase Reeves had already walked twice when he hit a 400-plus foot home run clear over the pine trees in right field at ICC’s Crubaugh Field.
The two-run shot made it 13-4 before Kyle Dahlem’s RBI double ended the five-inning mercy rule decision, 14-4.
“That’s the best we’ve hit all year,” said Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest. “After the way we looked Tuesday against Shannon, I was scared to come back up here.”
Hamilton lost 16-6 in four innings here on Tuesday.
The Class 2A Lions (3-2) came back and attacked early. Graham Pritchett doubled to open the game and Parker Rye singled. After Reeves walked to load the bases, Pritchett and Rye scored on an infield error. After Reeves scored on a wild pitch for a 3-0 lead, Austin Lewis’ two-out single drove home Austin Welch and Austin Earnest, chasing Amory starter Dalton Conwill (2-2).
With Collin McCrory on the mound, Ethan Earnest and Pritchett walked before Rye’s second single of the inning drove home two more for a 7-0 lead. Hamilton sent 12 batters to the plate.
Rye had three of Hamilton’s 13 hits and a pair of RBI. Dahlem finished a triple away from a cycle with three RBI.
Class 4A Amory (7-2), which left the bases loaded twice, picked up a pair of runs in the top of the second on Hayden Williams’ bases-loaded walk and when Tanner Poole beat out an infield single.
“When you don’t show up to play, you’re not going to win against a quality team,” said Amory coach Chad Williams.
Winners of seven straight coming in, Amory had another chance in the fourth after Poole walked to load the bases. Ryan Hill’s fielder’s choice scored a run and Mississippi State-signee Will Cox drove in another on a two-out, two-strike double down the left line.
Hamilton got three back in the bottom after Welch singled and scored on a wild pitch and Earnest and Dahlem added RBI singles to chase McCrory.
“We had some guys that did not give up,” Williams said. “The rest gave up. The majority of us did not. We had our opportunities.”
Before giving way to Reeves, Hamilton got four strong innings from Fikes (1-0), who had a well-timed strikeout in the second inning as Amory had the bases loaded with one out.
“We threw strikes. Tuesday we didn’t,” Earnest said. “They used three pitchers and when they changed pitchers we adjusted. Throwing strikes is the main thing.”