By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SHANNON – One way to success is to keep your opponent off balance.
The Shannon Red Raiders certainly appeared off balanced Tuesday against left-handed pitcher Dustin Allen, who helped the Tishomingo County Braves to a 12-2 victory in the Division 1-4A opener for both clubs.
“We had only faced one left-hander all year, and their pitcher did his job,” Shannon coach Jacob Bruce said. “He changed speed, had good location, and we didn’t do a good job hitting.
“And that’s a real good hitting team. They put pressure on us at the plate all night.”
A sophomore, Allen never let Shannon bats get into any kind of rhythm, scattering three hits over his six innings of work.
The Red Raiders (9-2, 0-1) managed a pair of two-out hits in the first inning, but came up scoreless in that frame. Perhaps wearing down, Allen walked five batters in his last two innings, but only allowed a fifth-inning run in that stretch.
Shannon scored its other run on an error, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly in the third.
“Allen really bowed up tonight,” said Tishomingo assistant coach John Barnett, with veteran head coach Jerry Long under the weather. “We just came up with some timely hits, and made plays when we had to make plays.
“This was a real important win under the circumstances. The players came together, and anytime you can go 1-0 in this division, it’s always a positive.”
The Braves (10-2-1, 1-0) got on the scoreboard first with a two-run double by Jacob McDuffy in the top of the third. Tishomingo then went up 4-1 in the fourth on a two-run single by Brett Shea.
Finally in the sixth, the Braves gained some separation with three runs, including a two-run single by Bobby Felker. McDuffy then added a grand slam as the Braves extended their lead.
“That’s the thing about this division, it’s going to be a toss up all the way through,” Bruce said. “There’s great competition in this division.”
Shannon starter Austin Saylors lasted into the fourth inning. The Raiders then used three pitchers the rest of the way. Gable Butler pitched a scoreless seventh inning for Tishomingo.
The two teams turn around and play each other Friday, this time in Iuka.