AMORY EDGES TUPELO IN EIGHT, 6-4
By Parrish Alford
Tupelo pitcher Ed Hebert was rolling along Friday when the wheels stopped rolling and simply fell off.
The 49ers’ right-handed starter was within an out of a win in the seventh inning in Game 1 when Amory’s Brian Thornton smashed his second RBI double of the game, giving the Cardinals the chance to win 6-4 in eight innings.
“We could have quit, but we came back with the run in the top of the seventh and then two to win it,” Amory coach Andy Smith said. “It would have been easy to quit on the road.”
The win made the Cardinals 7-4 overall, 3-2 in Senior American Legion District 1 heading into Friday’s late game. The 49ers dropped to 3-5 and 0-1.
The Cardinals had managed just one big inning against Hebert before Thornton’s double to right-center scored Daniel Threadgill to make it a 4-4 game with two gone in the seventh.
Hebert, who pitched at Itawamba AHS in the spring, struck out 10 in the game. He didn’t walk a batter until the fifth inning but then walked at least one each inning the rest of the way.
The 49ers scored three in the bottom of the second, but Amory pushed across three runs on three hits to tie the game in the top of the third. The big hit was a two-run double to left by Thornton.
“His two big doubles could not have come at a more opportune time,” Smith said. “Brian had a good game.”
That was more praise than Tupelo coach Steve Fleming had for his team at the plate.
“We didn’t listen to the coaches at the plate, and we didn’t watch signals. I had a guy miss the bunt signal; I gave it to him again, and he missed it two more times,” Fleming said.
The 49ers managed just six hits off Amory starter Brad Hamilton through seven innings. Of three runs Hamilton allowed in the second, one reached base with a walk and another as a hit batsman. Hebert had a two-out, two-run single to score Jeff Boyd and Mark Guin and later scored himself on a passed ball.
Tupelo left the potential winning run stranded in scoring position in the fifth and seventh innings.
While his teammates struggled at the plate, Hebert danced through trouble in the late innings. He put the first two batters on in the sixth, but the Cardinals couldn’t convert a sacrifice attempt, with Thornton being forced at third for the first out. Hebert then fanned Hamilton and got Chad Baty to hit into a fielder’s choice to get out of the jam.
The Cardinals finally got to Hebert again in the seventh and eighth. With one gone in the seventh he walked Threadgill, then hit Jeremy Duke. Richard Hass then flied to center for the second out, a sin not repeated by Thornton, the next man up.
Baty scored Amory’s go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Hebert in the eighth, and Derrick Riggan added an insurance run when Threadgill reached on an error. Mel McElroy got the final out in the eighth for Tupelo.
“The only reason we got to (Hebert) was because he let us,” Smith said. “He had the walk and the wild pitch for the go-ahead run. Then we got a ground ball by the shortstop, but he was still throwing.”
“We make no excuses with the layoff or anything,” Fleming said. “These boys are grown. If they can’t find a cage to hit in … There’s no excuse for the kind of plate appearances we had.”
Amory 6, Tupelo 4
Amory 003 000 12 6 6 1
Tupelo 031 000 00 4 6 1
WP – Brad Hamilton (2-1). LP – Ed Hebert. Save – Richard Haas. Multiple Hits – (A) Brian Thornton 2. (T) Jason Raper 2. 2B – (A) Thornton 2. (T) Raper.
Records: Tupelo 3-5, 0-1 district; Amory 7-4, 3-2.
Notes: Tupelo plays at Starkville today at 5 p.m. and at home against Starkville Academy Sunday at 1:30 p.m.