By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NORTHPORT, Ala. – Small ball paid off Saturday for the Tupelo 49ers.
J.G. Miley’s fifth-inning RBI single proved to be the game-winner in Tupelo’s 1-0 victory against Bessemer (Ala.) Post 149 in the Killian-Windham American Legion Invitational at Tuscaloosa County High School.
Miley plated Tucker Jenkins, who opened the inning with a double to the left-field corner. Jenkins moved to third moments later on a sacrifice bunt by McKamy Smith.
“At this level, with these new bats, you’ve got to be able to do the little things,” 49ers coach Kirk Presley said. “This club will get even better getting bunts down and making contact.”
Miley, who played for Tupelo High, came to the plate in the fifth inning looking to make contact against Bessemer right-hander Lane Wallace.
“He had been throwing his first pitch for a strike every time,” Miley said. “I wanted to put it in play.”
On the mound, Tupelo got a six-hit shutout by right-hander Drew Carter. The former Tupelo Christian Prep standout wasn’t overpowering – just one strikeout – but he got 13 batters to hit infield grounders.
“I really just tried to hit my spot and make the batter make a mistake,” he said. “I let my defense make plays. Give the credit to them.”
Presley was pleased with Carter’s seven-inning effort. “Drew threw extremely well and attacked the strike zone,” he said. “We played really good defense behind him.
“It was an efficient game all around.”
Tupelo played a late game Saturday against Columbia, Tenn.
The 49ers (6-2) are playing all their games on the road this season while repairs are being made at Tupelo High’s field. Tupelo travels to Mantachie on Tuesday, then plays in a tournament Friday-Sunday in Florence, Ala.
Presley believes playing tournament games against strong competition is a good barometer for the season.
“You find out where you are as a team,” he said. “You more competition you play the better off you’ll be going into the postseason tournament.”
This summer’s state Legion tournament will be played July 25-28 in Petal.