Special to the Journal
ECRU – There is going to be very little margin for error in Division 1-3A, and the arm of Trey Jolly will certainly aid the North Pontotoc Vikings in league play.
Jolly came within one out of hurling a no-hitter, helping his Vikings claim their division opener Friday with a 5-1 victory over the Belmont Cardinals.
“Trey did a great job tonight,” North Pontotoc head coach Chad Anthony said. “He was shaky early, but to his credit, he started to click about the fourth inning.
“We’ve talked about the anticipation of a bunch of splits in this division, so every game is huge. This is a big win for us.”
A senior, Jolly was certainly strong at times, striking out 14 in his complete-game effort. The shaky part of his outing was walking seven.
For its part, the North Pontotoc (11-2, 1-0) offense was very efficient, scoring solo runs in each of the first three innings.
With two out in the bottom of the first, a walk and a single set up an RBI double by Easton Smith for the 1-0 Vikings lead, North Pontotoc followed that by scoring in the second and third on errors for a 3-0 margin.
North Pontotoc then picked up some breathing room on the scoreboard in the sixth, as a two-out double by Colby Graham plated two.
“Two words to sum up this game – Trey Jolly,” Belmont head coach Andy Deaton said. “I thought our pitcher (Jon Mark Payne) deserved better, but he gave us a chance to win.
“I would put our division from top to bottom up against any in the state.”
Jolly had a no-hitter going into the top of the seventh, where he picked off a runner, and got a strikeout to begin the frame. Payne ended the no-hit bid by stroking a home run to right field, but that was the only dent in Jolly’s night on the mound.
“This was a big win to get our team on the right track, and we played good as a team,” Jolly said. “I don’t think I had my best tonight, but not bad, and I’m always trying to get better.”
These two squads will face off again in division action Tuesday, this time at Belmont.