Earnest effort yields perfection

TUPELO – It was a perfect beginning to the 2009 American Legion State Tournament for the Pontotoc Red Sox.
Literally.
Dylan Earnest tossed a perfect game over seven innings Friday, and the Red Sox scored early to down the Booneville Braves 11-0 in a first-round tournament game.
The victory earns Pontotoc a spot in the winners bracket of the event, and a 4:30 p.m. game today against the Hub City Bombers, who beat the Tupelo 49ers Friday night.
“I’ve thrown some no-hitters in little league, but this one was the first that counted for me,” said Earnest, a senior-to-be from Hamilton. “I kind of realized I had it going after the second inning, but I never thought that I would do this.
“I threw mostly fastballs and sliders, and just a couple of changeups. That’s the best game of my life.”
With a perfect game, Earnest did not have to worry about base runners in scoring position, and basically cruised through every inning. The Bombers only managed to get two balls out of the infield, both in the fifth inning, and Earnest induced 10 ground-ball outs.
The left-hander struck out at least one batter every inning, including the last two batters he faced in the seventh inning, to total nine for the contest.
“He’s got movement on everything he throws,” said Pontotoc coach Nickey Browning, who said this was the first perfect game he had been associated with in his 36-plus years of coaching. “And the thing is, this was against a good ball club.”
The Pontotoc offense was the star of the contest early, scoring at least one run in each of the first four innings to build up a 10-0 lead.
An RBI triple by David Bowen and single by Jordan Moore started the scoring for the Red Sox in the first frame, and Moore then added a grand slam over the left field scoreboard in the second.
“Combine an outstanding job of pitching, and I think four errors early, and the wind got sucked out of us quick,” Booneville coach Shane Sanderson said. “Earnest did everything you wanted to see from a pitcher in this game. But we get to wipe the slate clean, and play again tomorrow.”
Booneville plays at 1 p.m. today against Tupelo.

David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal