By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – If pitching wins Legion games, the Tupelo 49ers are capable of winning their share.
Drew Carter and Austin Saylors combined for a 14-1, five-inning win against Florence on Saturday night in the Tupelo Invitational.
“They were solid. They pounded the zone,” Tupelo coach Kirk Presley said. “We’ve got a lot of pitching left and I’m proud of those guys.”
The championship of the pool-play event is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today.
Pitching can lose games too, and the 49ers (14-11) took advantage of opportunities.
Florence, which had two of its four hits and its only run in the final inning, went through three pitchers as Tupelo scored its runs on eight hits. Carter struck out six and allowed two hits in three scoreless innings. He struck out four in the first and had a two-run double in the fourth. He escaped in the third, getting a groundout to end a two-out bases situation.
“The most important thing is to try to get out of the inning as quick as possible,” Carter said. “I could’ve done better, just glad I kept the runs to zero.”
Florence walked 12 batters, five with the bases loaded, as Luke Harris took the loss. He gave up five runs.
“You get to this level and teams start making mistakes, you’ve got to take advantage of them,” Presley said. “If you don’t, you’ll get in trouble.”
Tupelo took a lead in the the third with the five-spot. The 49ers sent 11 batters to the plate and got four bases-loaded walks. JG Miley singled, stole second and scored on a fielder’s choice from Carter, the first of his three RBI.
Saylors came on in relief for a scoreless fourth before Tupelo forced another Florence pithing change in the bottom of the inning. Tupelo sent 14 more batters to the plate. Three straight walks loaded the bases. A run scored on a wild pitch and the 49ers got RBI singles from Blake Wigginton, Saylors and Kyle Young. Hudson Roy’s bases-loaded walk made it 10-0 before Carter’s double off the wall and a two-run single from McKamy Smith.
“We’re a junior team in a senior tournament. It’s good for us. I just want us to compete and we didn’t,” Florence coach Torey Baird said.