By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
SPRINGVILLE – It wasn’t pretty, but South Pontotoc Cougars’ head coach Bryan Buckner was glad to wrap his arms around this victory Friday.
The Cougars pushed across just enough runs to edge the Mooreville Troopers 2-0 in a battle for first place in Division 2-3A.
“We found a way to win,” Buckner said. “We didn’t hit the ball, and their pitcher did a good job.
“But our pitching was good tonight. We kept Mooreville off balance, so I’d have to give this win to our pitching and our defense.”
Pitching was a dominating factor in this race for first place in 2-3A.
Chalking up the win for South Pontotoc (10-8, 5-0) was lefty Peyton Belk, who threw six strong innings for the Cougars. Belk spread out three hits in his time on the mound, with seventh-inning help from lefty Dustin Foster.
Mooreville (10-8-1, 4-1) did threaten in the top of the third, loading the bases with no hits, but Belk induced an inning-ending grounder. Foster also kept some drama going, walking the first two batters he faced in the seventh before getting two strike outs with the game ending on a ground out.
“I saw a South Pontotoc team that came out ready to play, and hustled from the first out to the last out,” Mooreville head coach Derrick Thompson said. “Chandler Crawford pitched well enough to win, but we’ve got to find a way to compete better if we still want a shot at the division.”
Crawford scattered five hits in his six innings, but both runs allowed were unearned.
‘Really big’ effort
Kolten Ferguson led off the first for the Cougars with a single, eventually scoring on an infield error with two out. South Pontotoc then padded its advantage in the fifth frame as Matt Adams was hit by a pitch, stole second, then scored on an attempted pickoff, all with two out.
“This win was really big, because if we can keep people chasing us, we’re in the position we want to be,” Buckner said.
These two teams turn around and play again Tuesday at Mooreville.