By D.E. Wheeler/Special to the Journal
AMORY – A one-hit pitching performance by Daniel Simpson was almost not enough for the Amory Panthers Friday.
The Panthers scored six runs in the first two innings, then held on for an 8-5 victory over the determined Saltillo Tigers.
“I started telling the team during the game that they could not lay down against a team as good as the Saltillo Tigers,” Amory head coach Chad Williams said. “Saltillo almost proved me right.”
Proving Williams right on the mound was Daniel Simpson, who went six innings against Saltillo this outing. Simpson only allowed one hit over that span, with the base-rap not coming until the top of the sixth inning on a double by Chase Hill.
“I thought he did a good job on the mound,” Williams said of Simpson. “I pulled him because of his pitch count, and because of the cool weather.”
On the warm side were Amory bats in the first two innings.
In the first frame, Hayden Williams connected for a solid double to give the Panthers (5-2) a 1-0 lead. Then in the second inning, Amory bats collected five hits, including RBI knocks by Jordan Chism, Destin Hahn, and Simpson, platting five runs for a 6-0 lead.
“We were trying to find some pitching tonight, and Blake Houston didn’t have it for us,” Saltillo head coach Johnny Bolen said of his starting pitcher. “Then, if we had hit the ball early like we did late, we might have been all right.
“We need to get started early.”
Amory had opportunities to put this contest in the win column early, leaving the bases loaded without scoring a run in the third and fifth innings. The Panthers also left two in scoring position without plating runs in the fourth frame.
That left the door open just a crack for Saltillo (3-4), and the Tigers attempted to take advantage. Saltillo was able to plate two runs in the fifth on no hits, then added a run in the sixth to pull within 6-3.
Amory added insurance runs in the sixth on RBI hits by Chism and Austin Pearson. Saltillo then added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run hit by Cosby Repult.
“We’ve been struggling with the bat, but we came out swinging well tonight,” Williams said.