TUPELO – For the second straight time, the Pontotoc High baseball team had Tupelo High School on the ropes.
And for the second straight game, the Warriors couldn’t put the Golden Wave away.
A 2-0 Pontotoc lead with six outs remaining evaporated and the Warriors found themselves on the short end of a 4-3 game at Tupelo’s Golden Wave Field on Friday night. Just last week, Pontotoc led Tupelo 2-0 entering the sixth inning before losing 14-2 at Pontotoc High School.
“This was a playoff-type game and you can’t assimilate that kind of stuff in practice,” said Pontotoc head coach Phil Webb, whose team was defeated for only the fourth time this season.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Chris Stratton’s three-run homer to left off Pontotoc starter Nathan White (4-2) gave Tupelo the boost it needed.
“Stratton came up with a big, key hit in an important time of the game,” said Tupelo head coach Gary Enis, whose team improved to 17-4. “We really needed that hit.”
Facing Tupelo reliever Kyle Graham in the top of the seventh, Pontotoc, however, would tie the game thanks to Jake Smithey’s two-out triple to left center, scoring Zach Chavers. Blake O’Callaghan then lined out to Tupelo shortstop John Gatlin for the third out of the inning.
“When we got down 3-2 after the big hit by Stratton, we didn’t hang our heads,” Webb said.
Graham (3-0) picked up his third win for Tupelo despite surrendering the tying run in the seventh. The senior right-hander came on in relief of sophomore Ben Hudspeth.
Making his varsity debut as a starting pitcher, Hudspeth gave up two runs and seven hits, walked two and hit a batter, while striking out four in six innings.
“He competed well and gave us some innings that we needed,” Enis said.
As Pontotoc was going for its 20th win of the season, White put his team in position to win Friday. He struck out four, walked one, hit a batter and allowed four runs and seven hits in going the distance.
“He threw well,” Webb said. “I thought it was one of his better outings of the year.”
John Wilbert/Daily Journal