By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
NEW ALBANY – New Albany fought off a rough start Saturday to defeat North Pontotoc 11-1 in five innings in a Division 2-4A game at BNA Bank Park.
The Bulldogs made up for four errors by taking advantage of North miscues and getting a key hit from Brandon Montgomery, who drove in four.
“We’ve struggled defensively at times,” New Albany coach John Walker said. “It’s fortunate for us we stayed with it offensively.”
New Albany swept the season series, improving to 14-4, 3-1. The Vikings fell to 9-7, 2-2.
Tied at 1 in the fourth, New Albany took advantage of North’s two errors. Pinch hitter Aaron Catt walked. Jonah Zahller then bunted and reached on an errant throw as Catt scored. Zahller then scored on a wild pitch to put New Albany up 3-1.
An error and two walks loaded the bases and North made a pitching change to MacKenzie McKnight.
Montgomery greeted him with a bases-clearing double. Colt Smith then plated Montgomery for a 7-1 lead. The Bulldogs sent 11 to the plate.
“We’ve got a pretty good offensive team and it doesn’t take a whole lot to get us going,” Walker said. “When we get the opportunity, most of the time we come through.”
The Bulldogs got an RBI triple in the fifth from Ben Foster, forcing the Vikings to their third pitcher, Caleb Nelson.
Two walks later, Foster scored on a wild pitch and rundown. Easton Hall’s two-run single ended it.
North pitchers combined for 12 walks as starter Colby Graham took the loss. Bulldogs’ starter Smith (2-1) allowed just two hits and sat down nine straight to close his second start.
“I’ve played with a couple of them on my traveling team the past few years. We’ve been friends. I was just trying to be competitive and get them out,” said Smith, a sophomore.
North Pontotoc took a 1-0 lead after Smith hit back-to-back batters and on what could have been an inning-ending double play, Jolley slid high into second baseman John Holt Waldrop. The contact forced Waldrop’s throw over the first base dugout and Caleb Mills scored.
“We didn’t handle it very good today. They made some mistakes and we didn’t take advantage of it,” North coach Chad Anthony said. “When we made ours, they did.”
Montgomery’s sac fly tied the game.