By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Nettleton High baseball coach Greg Patterson believes there is a significant difference between an underclassman and an upperclassman.
After Wednesday night’s 15-0 mercy-rule loss in four innings to Pontotoc at the Saltillo Spring Classic, he certainly has a point.
“There’s a lot of difference between an eighth- and a ninth-grader,” said Patterson, whose team started six eighth-graders and three freshman against the Warriors. “And then there’s sure enough a lot of difference between an eighth- and ninth-grader compared to a 10th-, 11- or 12th grader.”
Pontotoc senior catcher Kyle Russell welcomed eighth-grade starting pitcher Jordan Smith (0-2) to high school varsity baseball with a three-run homer to left in the top of the first. An underclassman, sophomore Landon Tutor, added a two-run shot to left center three batters later to round out a five-run first inning for the Warriors (6-1).
After adding three runs in the top of the second, highlighted by an RBI double to right center by Blake Davis and an RBI single by Ethan Gill, Pontotoc tacked on six more in the third by sending 11 batters to the plate.
The Warriors scored once more in the fourth when pinch-hitter Trey Henry doubled in fellow pinch-hitter Rashad Dixon, who also doubled to lead off the inning.
Russell led Pontotoc’s 13-hit parade with a 3-for-3 night, falling a triple short of the cycle.
Zach Gory (3-1) pitched all four innings to pick up the win, allowing only one hit on a slow roller hit in front of the mound by freshman Levert Jernigan. Gory struck out eight while walking just one.
The two teams will face off again this morning at 10 a.m. at Saltillo City Park when they resume their suspended game from Monday.