By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
TUPELO – After a two-year reign by Northeast Mississippi teams, the American Legion state championship is leaving the area for the Pine Belt.
Hattiesburg-based Hub City defeated Pontotoc 13-3 Saturday night at Golden Wave Field to win their first title since 2009. The Bombers will represent the state in the regional round of the American Legion National Tournament, which begins in two weeks.
Mason Walley and Drew Standland continued the example their peers set in pitching another dominant game.
The duo combined to hold a Pontotoc offense that had scored 25 runs the previous two games to only three in this contest.
Pontotoc would score first, though. Jacob Shempert stole third then advanced home on a throwing error by the catcher. Stephen Sexton followed that with a RBI double to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead after one inning.
Walley would settle in after that and not allow another run to score before being relieved by Standland in the sixth. A seventh inning bases-loaded single by Colt Smith was the only damage Standland took.
“We knew we had a good hitting squad so we knew we could get it done as far as run support so our pitchers had a lot of confidence on the mound,” said Walley, who struck out seven in earning the win. “The confidence is what made a big difference.”
The Bombers’ offense did nothing at the plate against Pontotoc to break that confidence Walley and his teammates have.
Run scoring hits by Colton Caver and Standland gave Hub City their first lead of the game at 3-2 in the third.
Hub City (17-3) would extend their lead with a six-run frame the next inning. Following three straight two-out walks, Cort Brinson unloaded the bases off Red Sox starter Kyle Robbins with a double in the left field gap.
Three batters later, Tyler Odom’s single capped the inning and gave the Bombers a comfortable 9-2 lead.
A four-run seventh, aided by six of Pontotoc’s twelve walks, invoked the ten-run rule and ended the game early.
Pontotoc (12-16) eliminated defending state champion Tupelo with an 11-7 win earlier in the afternoon to advance to the title game.