By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
FULTON – The Northeast Tigers were able to secure a victory on Wednesday thanks to a new rule this season that extended Game 1 of a doubleheader.
Northeast scored the tying run in the top of the ninth, then plated three in the tenth to down its rival the Itawamba Indians 7-4 in a key North Division matchup.
“This was a huge win for us, and it puts with three wins in a tie-breaker with Itawamba,” said Northeast head coach Kent Farris, whose Tigers had already swept a doubleheader from the Indians earlier in the season. “This also goes back to nine innings games making a huge difference the rest of the season.
“Itawamba helped us tonight, no doubt about that, but we were able to keep them to four one-run innings. Heath Wood had a big at bat for us, and Easton Hall had a big at bat for us.”
Most of the drama that favored the Tigers, who were sitting in third place in the North entering the contest, came about in part with a new rule that has the first game of a doubleheader slated for nine innings instead of the usual seven the second time through the division schedule.
Itawamba had forged ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a RBI hit by Ethan Gill from Pontotoc. The Indians were then within an out of claiming the victory in the top of the ninth, but a bouncing grounder on the infield off the bat of Riley Alef resulted in an error and scored Wood to tie the score at 4-4.
Then in the top of the tenth, Kossuth’s Wood delivered a one-out, two-run double to give the Tigers their first lead. New Albany’s Hall then followed with a singled that scored Wood.
“You think you have it, then you have a ground ball error,” said Itawamba head coach Rick Collier, whose Indians stood in fifth place entering the day. “But we had four errors in the game, so it wasn’t just this one play.
“We’re starting to get in a must-win situation.”
Itawamba got a 3-0 lead through four innings with solo runs in the first, second, and fourth frames. Bryce Williams and Austin Welch from Hamilton had RBI hits in that span.
Northeast pulled even at 3-3 with two runs in the fifth and the tying run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Hall.
Northeast 2, Itawamba 1: The Tigers scored a in the second inning on an RBI hit by Jordan Montgomery, and in the fifth on an RBI hit by Trent Turner. Itawamba left the bases loaded in the first and sixth innings.
Kossuth’ David Gibson earned the win, pitching into the sixth.