By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – There was a point last week when the Pontotoc Warriors were winless in Division 1-4A.
Not a position the Warriors and head coach Phil Webb were familiar with in recent years.
It might be small, but the Warriors are now on a two-game winning streak within the division, and still have a shot at making the playoffs after downing the Tishomingo County Braves 8-4 Tuesday.
“This puts us right back in it after going 0-3,” Webb said. “After our win Friday over New Albany, we talked Monday about how we control our own destiny.
“We knew the things we had to do tonight, and we executed.”
With the victory, Pontotoc (10-6, 2-3) pulls into a tie for fourth place with Tishomingo (11-6-1, 2-3) in the division. Both are still looking up, though, at North Pontotoc, New Albany, and Itawamba AHS.
But Webb was only interested in this night and in his Warriors controlling their fortunes, which is what they eventually did.
Trailing 2-0 entering the third inning, Pontotoc got some much-needed offensive thrust from Kyle Russell and Blake Davis, who connect on back-to-back home runs to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead.
And when the Braves rebounded to take a 4-3 lead through five innings, the Warriors responded with a game-deciding at-bat in the bottom of the sixth. In that inning, Pontotoc pushed across four runs on just two hits, but manufactured some of those chances with three well executed bunts by Hayden Cummings, Lawrence Rakestraw, and Russell.
“We knew this was going to be a challenge, but this was a tough loss,” said Tishomingo County assistant coach John Barnett, who was subbing for an ailing Jerry Long. “We just gave up that big inning in the sixth
“They got runners on, and came up with the big plays. Dustin Allen had them in check for five innings, and pitched a good game.”
A sophomore, Allen threw five and third innings for the Braves, before giving way to Gable Butler. Pontotoc starter Zach Gory survived a bases load situation in the first inning, eventually scattering seven hits in his complete-game effort.
The Braves did score on a walk in the first inning, then on an RBI hit by Butler in the second frame. Tishomingo also scored in the fourth on an RBI double by Cory Willis, and in the fifth on a solo home run by Jacob McDuffy.
“I thought a big difference tonight was that we were patient on both offense and defense,” Webb said. “We stuck to our plans, and it was successful.
“But we still have to go to Tishomingo Friday, in a game as important as tonight.”