By D.E. Wheeler/Special to the Journal
PONTOTOC – After a pair of low-scoring, one-run games, Pontotoc head coach Phil Webb was glad to have an active scoreboard on Tuesday.
Pontotoc’s bats pushed more than enough runs across the plate, handing the Ripley Tigers their first loss of the young season, 14-9.
“Friday and Saturday, we had lost games 3-2 and 2-1, and left a lot of guys on base,” Webb said. “Tonight, we were able to come through, especially in the sixth inning.”
The Pontotoc batters took advantage of base runners in the first three innings, pushing nine runs across the plate.
The Warriors (5-2) scored four in the bottom of the first on only two hits, and added a solo run in the second inning as well. Then in the third frame, Pontotoc tacked on another four runs, including a two-run home run by Jacob Stokes.
All this damage came off Ripley (5-1) starter Aleck Hobson, who could have very easily gotten out of the first inning unscathed. Hobson would only hurl three innings for the Tigers.
The Ripley offense finally began getting to Pontotoc starter Chance Witt, a freshman making his first varsity start, in the top of the fourth inning. Three walks and two errors helped Ripley push three runs across in the frame, closing the Pontotoc lead to 9-4.
Ripley pulled even closer the next two frames, scoring a solo run in the fifth. Two leadoff bunt singles in the sixth by Cody James and Austin Hamilton helped the Tigers push across two more in the sixth to pull within 10-7 of Pontotoc.
‘Back down to earth’
“We can’t have innings like those first three, especially against a team like Pontotoc,” Ripley head coach Joel Gafford said. “I think this loss brought us back down to earth, and hopefully this gets us back on track.”
But Pontotoc had something left in the tank, tacking on four key insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Landon Tutor and Reid Tackett had RBI singles in the frame, with the big blow a two-run double by Ryan Watts.
Hayden Kennedy came in to throw the final two and a third innings for the Warriors to help close out the game.
“Chance Witt did really well, but his pitch count got really high,” Webb said. “But he did a good job against a really good Ripley team.
“And Hayden Kennedy, who we brought in after that, is only a sophomore.”