By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – All the New Albany bats needed on Friday was one inning.
That inning just happened to be a drama-filled top of the seventh.
The Bulldogs plated two runs in its last at bat, edging the Pontotoc Warriors 2-1 to sweep their play-in series in the Class 4A playoffs.
“We’re going into the seventh inning down 1-0, and we hadn’t pressured them up to that point,” New Albany coach John Walker said. “And we had our 7-8-9 guys coming up, who are capable guys.
“Then we had a flare that fell in, and that seemed to get us started.”
That “flare” – a leadoff single by Grant Hogue to center – got it all started. Jimmy Baldon found another hole in the Pontotoc defense with an infield single to the left side.
After a ground out that advanced the runners to second and third, Jonah Zahller put an innocent slow roller into play to the right side of the infield. It turned out to be a perfect spot as Zahller reached base allowing one run to score, with another following on the same play on a throwing error.
“We came out and looked sharp early,” Pontotoc coach Casey James said. “It just wasn’t enough.”
Pontotoc (16-11) put itself in a good position in the bottom of the second following a solo home run to left field by Trey Henry. That set up Pontotoc starting pitcher Chance Witt, who cruised through his first six innings of work, scattering three hits over that span.
New Albany (16-12) hurler Ben Foster had an effective outing as well, only allowing three hits over his seven innings on the mound.
“We had a guy go out to the mound who was efficient,” Walker said. “That’s what kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win.”
New Albany advances to face Division 4-4A No. 1 seed Kosciusko. The best-of-three series begins Thursday at Kosciusko, with New Albany slated to host Game 2 on Friday.
Tish County advances
In Oxford, Blake McGuff threw an eight-winning no-hitter Friday as Tishomingo County defeated Lafayette to win its 4A series.
A.J. Roaten drove in the winning run for the Braves (20-10), who won Game 2 by a 4-1 score.
Tish County advances to play Cleveland next week.
Lafayette (19-10) won Game 1 on the road, 5-3.