By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Through two games of this best-of-three MHSAA Class 4A quarterfinals series, it has become quite clear: Your team’s pitcher has to be virtually lights-out if you’re going to win.
Less than 24 hours after Amory senior right-hander Will Cox shut out New Albany 1-0 in Game 1, it was Tyler Beaty’s turn to answer for the Bulldogs.
Beaty allowed just two hits in blanking the Panthers, 6-0, in Game 2 at New Albany’s Legion Field on Saturday afternoon. He struck out nine – four in a row to close out the game – while walking one and hitting a batter to improve to 9-3 on the season.
“I thought our pitcher did well enough for us to win,” Amory coach Chad Williams said about his Game 2 starter, Dalton Conwill (5-3). “I thought he threw the ball well enough for us to win.
“I give their pitcher credit for sure.”
So with Game 3 being set for 6 p.m. Monday in Amory, who’s getting the nod to pitch the decisive game? And will he have enough gas left in the tank?
Cox, a Mississippi State signee who is 11-0 on the year, threw 83 pitches in Friday’s Game 1. When asked if Cox was going to start Game 3, Williams replied, “More than likely.”
Meanwhile, Bulldogs coach John Walker may have to wait until today to see if Beaty can throw at all in Game 3.
“He threw 92, I think,” Walker said of his senior right-hander’s pitch count on Saturday. “That’s the first time for him to be under 100 in a seven-inning ballgame.
“That’s exactly what we need. That’s more than likely going to make him an option for us on Monday.
“Just the way that he bounces back … if I had somebody who can bounce back in two days, it would be him.
“We’ll just have to see how he is tomorrow (today), check on how he feels with his arm, and then Monday morning we’ll have a pretty good idea of what we got there.”
Tyler Basil (8-3) – who pitched well enough to win Game 1, striking out eight before losing on a walk-off single – is another likely option to pitch Game 3.
“I probably won’t until Monday,” Walker said of naming a starter. “I really don’t know.”
Beaty or Basil “are likely options if they both can bounce back on short rest, and I think they both can,” added the New Albany coach. “I’m just going to see which one, in my estimation, I got more confidence in on Monday.”
While Basil was the tough-luck loser in Game 1, as the Bulldogs managed only three hits, Beaty was the primary beneficiary of a three-run lead after an inning of play and a six-run advantage through four as his team’s offense cranked out 12 hits in Saturday’s Game 2 win.
Beaty had two of those hits, which drove in three of New Albany’s runs.
Easton Hall and Mason Maxey each two hits and an RBI, while Drew Wray added an RBI double to the center-field wall in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bulldogs’ offense will no doubt be in for another challenge if Cox throws Game 3 Monday night in Amory.
“We had some tough breaks not go our way the other night; a ball hit a couple of inches away from an infielder, we break that thing open early,” Walker said about the difficulty of scoring runs against the Panthers’ ace. “So, you gotta catch breaks against good guys like that.
“I think seeing him last night (Friday) will give us a little sense of comfort. I don’t know how much it will help us, but it will give us a sense of comfort in kind of understanding what he’s got.
“And hitting him is a different story.”