Legion pitchers’ duel turns into rout

By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
TUPELO – The Booneville senior American Legion baseball team has been a bit under the radar this summer.
Perhaps the Tupelo 49ers Invitational is just the setting for the Banditos to make a little noise.
Following its game-plan of offensive small-ball and solid pitching, Booneville scratched its way to a 7-0 victory over the Mississippi Braves in the first game of the four-day tournament at Golden Wave Field.
“Our pitching and our defense was solid, and we started late with the bats,” said Booneville head coach Caleb Reno, whose club is now 13-3 for the summer. “But we’re not an offensive team, so it usually goes our way when we have pitching and defense.”
This contest was going the way of a pitchers duel through the first three innings, including Booneville starter Cody Bo Dillard of East Union and Northeast Community College, who faced the minimum over that span.
Booneville loaded the bases in the top of the third on walks, but failed to push across a run.
Scoring begins
Then in the fourth, a leadoff single by Miciah Heard was followed by two stolen bases, with the North Pontotoc graduate scoring on a wild pitch to break the ice.
Booneville also added a run in the frame on a sacrifice fly by Dillard for a 2-0 lead.
The Banditos added a run in the fifth on an error and a wild pitch, before salting the contest away in the sixth. That inning produced four runs as the first six Booneville batters reached base, which included an RBI hit by Tyler Moore from Alcorn Central.
That was more than enough for Dillard, who threw five innings, facing only one batter over the minimum while allowing just one hit.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who are pretty good pitchers,” Reno said. “The main thing is, we throw strikes.
“Dillard was able to throw his fast ball either side of the plate. He didn’t throw many off-speed pitches.”
The Braves, a BEST (Baseball Elite Summer Team) with players basically from schools along Hwy. 82, dropped to 17-8.
Booneville returns to action today in the tournament, facing area rival the Pontotoc Red Sox at 10 a.m.