SALTILLO – The Saltillo Tigers did not need a win to get in the playoffs. But the Tigers needed a victory to get in a playoff frame of mind.
Saltillo got the mental kick-start it needed Tuesday with a 6-4 victory over the Itawamba AHS Indians in Division 1-4A action.
“We needed something like this to help us going into the playoffs,” said Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen, whose Tigers are no worse than the No. 4 seed from the division.
After going through most of his pitching over the weekend, Bolen also needed someone to step up for this contest. Enter Blake Hutcheson, who had not pitched since spring break.
Hutcheson went the distance for the Tigers (11-12, 7-5), scattering eight hits.
“I can’t say enough about what Blake did tonight,” Bolen said. “He hadn’t thrown since Tuesday of spring break.
“We had gone through a bunch of pitching this weekend, and we called on him tonight. He came through.”
Itawamba did touch Hutcheson for a pair of runs in the second inning, which included an RBI single by Maihkail Miller. The Indians added a run in the fourth on an RBI hit by Tyler Thomas, and another run in the sixth on another hit by Thomas.
The Saltillo offense backed up the pitching effort with solo runs in the first, third, and fourth innings. Those innings included RBI hits by Cole Morse and Drew Chisholm.
But the big inning for Saltillo was the bottom of the fifth. There, the Tigers plated three big runs, including a two-run triple by Hunter Hill.
“They just outplayed us,” a disappointed Itawamba coach Brian Long said. “But the division is still there for us, and it is up to us to take care of business Thursday and Saturday.”
As much as Saltillo needed this contest mentally, Itawamba (12-9, 8-1) needed it on paper.
The Indians had entered the night tied for first with Pontotoc in the division. Itawamba can still win the division by beating Pontotoc Thursday, and Center Hill on Saturday.
This was the last division game of the season for Saltillo.
David Wheeler/Daily Journal