By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
CLINTON – One swing of Drew Alford’s bat – a two-run, seventh-inning homer – last week against favored Northwest Rankin sent Tupelo streaking into the 6A state baseball quarterfinals.
Alford’s bat was a difference maker again Saturday against rival Clinton in Game 2 of a best-of-three series at Mississippi College’s Frierson Field.
The senior outfielder went 4 for 5 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs to power the Golden Wave to a 12-4 victory and a second straight series sweep.
“I was seeing the ball really well today,” Alford said. “I’ve been hitting left-handers pretty good lately. Today, it was a soft left-hander. He was throwing a lot of curves. They weren’t hard to pick up.”
Clinton’s starter was Andrew Gunn, whose brother, Alex, was the starter and loser in Tupelo’s 4-2 win in Friday’s opener.
“Drew’s swinging the bat well, making solid contact,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said.
Next up for red-hot Tupelo (22-8), which is making its fourth straight trip to the state semifinals, is twice-beaten Madison Central. The best-of-three series is scheduled to begin Thursday at Golden Wave Field.
Collin Dexter’s single and Alford’s double gave the Golden Wave a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Clinton rallied to tie the score in the third in a nightmare inning for Tupelo. The Arrows scored their runs, all unearned, off one base hit and five Golden Wave errors.
Enis was pleased to see his team survive its defensive meltdown.
“We could have folded and made some more,” he said. “We kept our heads up and later made some plays.”
One swing of Alford’s bat in the third inning gave Tupelo its lead back. He hit a 1-0 fastball from Gunn over the fence in left-center field. He later added a single in the Wave’s six-run, seven-hit inning.
Cody Shrewsbury’s double and singles by Kirk Roberts, Sanders West and Dylan Vuncannon plated runs for the Golden Wave, which extended its lead to 9-3.
Tupelo added three insurance runs in the seventh on a two-run double by Collin Dexter and a double by Alford.
Clinton scratched for one in the fourth off Tupelo right-hander Ben Hudspeth (7-2), who recorded four strikeouts and walked just two in seven innings.
“We’re playing well right now,” Alford said. “We’re on a hot streak.”