AMORY – Will Cox will be wearing maroon and white on his Mississippi State jersey next season. But right now, Amory is glad he’s still in black and old gold.
Cox struck out 11 New Albany batters in a pitching duel with New Albany’s Tyler Basil and Amory got the only run needed to decide the game in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 1-0 win Friday night.
In Game 1 of a Class 4A best-of-three state quarterfinals series, Chandler Riggs delivered a bases-loaded RBI single to left that scored Tanner Poole and send Amory to New Albany today with a series lead.
Game 2 is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the New Albany Sportsplex.
“Anytime you win a close game like this, it’s great, especially in the playoffs,” Amory coach Chad Williams said. “When your kids come through, it makes you feel real, real good.
“The other part is, when they don’t come through, you hurt with them when they’re not successful.”
Cox, who allowed two hits in the first and one the rest of the way, and Basil made it tough to find success at the plate. Cox, whose lone walk was a hit batsman, improved to 11-0. Basil, now 8-3, struck out eight.
New Albany catcher Riley Alef picked off two base-runners for New Albany.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tanner Poole reached on an infield single and dangerously took off to second as the throw went to the fence. After Ryan Hill walked and Cox advanced the runners against new pitcher Easton Hall, John Randle was walked intentionally. Riggs single, one of his two, ended the game. He walked twice.
Riggs made the hit sound like a simple chore, but it wasn’t that simple through the first six innings for either team.
“I just knew that we had to score to win,” said Riggs after the Panthers improved to 22-6 and New Albany fell to 21-11.
Both pitchers got out of jams, Basil’s biggest with the bases-loaded and no outs in the sixth. Two of his nine walks led off the inning before two strikeouts and a fielder’s choice ended the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Cox surrendered his first hit since the first inning when nine-hole hitter Josh Googe doubled to lead things off. Amory catcher Hayden Williams kept Googe at second by blocking up a pair of breaking balls and Cox struck out the side, with the hit batsmen in between.
“They didn’t decide to give him a scholarship for nothing. He’s good,” New Albany coach John Walker said. “He kept us off-balance. Neither team deserved to lose that one. Unfortunately it was us.”
Today’s scheduled starters are Dalton Conwill for Amory against New Albany’s Tyler Beaty.
Chandler’s hit “was huge,” said Williams, “and I sure am glad (Will’s) dressed in black and gold and not in maroon and white … yet.”
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal