By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – If Amory High and Pontotoc High are to meet in the baseball postseason, it would likely make for a great best-of-three series.
An indication of that came on Saturday afternoon at Pontotoc High School, where Amory and Pontotoc – the Daily Journal’s third- and fourth-ranked teams, respectively – played a non-division MHSAA Class 4A contest.
After Amory’s Tanner Poole belted his first homer of the season, a two-run shot to left with two outs in the top of the seventh, to give the Panthers a 6-5 lead, Pontotoc responded in the bottom half of the inning with two runs itself to win in walk-off fashion, 7-6.
“I’m sure it was fun to watch for the fans,” Pontotoc coach Phil Webb said after his team gutted out its seventh win a row to improve to 19-4-1 on the season. “It came down to the wire.”
The Warriors’ two runs in the seventh, however, weren’t pretty. Ethan Gill singled to lead off before Drew Carter struck out Jonathan Wooley and Andrew Bell on back-to-back at-bats.
Hannon then singled up the middle and Jake Smithey followed with a walk to load the bases.
Blake O’Callagan was then hit by a pitch to force in the tying run.
And just when you thought the game was going into extra innings, Pontotoc would catch a break on a third strike with two outs in the inning.
Carter (2-1) got Kaleb Kennedy to strike out swinging on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball would get away from Amory catcher Zack Randolph to score Jon Michael Hannon with the winning score.
“The guy made a good pitch,” Webb said. “It was just a ball the catcher tried to make a play on it.
“I guess it’s unfortunate that somebody had to lose this game because it was a well-played baseball game on both sides.”
In the excitement that ensued on the winning play, Kennedy didn’t realize right away that he had to touch first base in order for the winning run to count. Fortunately, the Pontotoc first-base coach was able to get hold of Kennedy’s attention to tell him he needed to touch first.
“Pontotoc, they’re a great club,” said Amory coach Chad Williams, who saw his team’s 16-game winning streak end on Saturday as the Panthers fell to 20-3 overall. “They have a lot of tradition.
“We had a 16-game winning streak and we’ve had a lot of added pressure. I thought our guys came out and played well.
“Any time Amory plays Pontotoc, it’s a battle.”