SALTILLO – Usually, a high school team can feel pretty good after scoring seven runs in a playoff contest.
Not so on Monday night for the Saltillo Tigers.
The New Hope Trojans played championship defense and swung the bats with confidence on the way to a 16-7 victory over the Tigers In Game 2 of their Class 4A playoff series.
The win gives the Trojans the series sweep, and advances them into the 4A semifinals later this week.
“I just told the Trojans that if they play defense and hit the ball like they did against us for two games, they’ll be in Jackson,” Saltillo coach Johnny Bolen said. “That’s a good high school baseball team.”
The Tigers (16-15) were no slouches at the plate most of the night.
Saltillo plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning off RBI hits by Colby Adams and Jake Littlejohn. The Tigers scored three more times in the second off home runs by Hunter Hill and Adams.
But by the time the Tigers where ready for their at bat in the bottom of the third, they were trailing 10-6.
And any hope Saltillo had of a comeback was dashed by the middle of the New Hope (24-9) infield.
Brent Younger and Philip Tice made four plays in the fourth and fifth innings that snuffed out any hopes the Tigers had, including a diving double play started by Tice with the bases loaded in the fifth.
“Our defense played as good as we’ve played all season,” said New Hope coach Stacy Hester, who has coached the Trojans to five state championships, the last in 2003. “This team is clicking on all cylinders.”
“The score might have been different if not for their defense,” Bolen said. “About three of those plays they made are usually hits.”
While Tice and Will McReynolds were leading the New Hope offense with eight hits between the two, Saltillo pitching was helping the Trojans cause by walking eight in the first three frames.
David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal