By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BATESVILLE – Head coach Gary Enis was relieved to see his light-hitting Tupelo baseball team leave South Panola with a 2-1 win in its Division 2-6A opener.
It took three seventh-inning strikeouts by relief pitcher J.D. Roberts, the final one with two Tigers on base, to seal Tuesday’s victory and earn a save.
“He’s never been in a situation like that,” Enis said of his junior left-hander, who relieved starter Cody Shrewsbury in the sixth inning. “He’s proven in the first 10 games he can be effective on the mound.
“He got in there and got the outs. I’m proud of him.”
Roberts, who was scheduled to pitch in Friday’s rematch against the Tigers in Tupelo, recorded four strikeouts in his two innings of work and gave up two hits and a walk.
Enis said either Roberts or Ben Hudspeth, a right-hander who hurled a 3-hitter in Saturday’s win against North Pontotoc, will get the starting nod.
“We’ll have to see how J.D. feels,” Enis said. “We’ll see who is effective, who can throw strikes and get the outs.”
Shrewsbury, who got the win for the Golden Wave (7-4, 1-0), gave up two hits, struck out seven and walked four in his five innings of work. He was charged with the Tigers’ lone run in the sixth.
Chris Townsend opened the inning with a walk off Shrewsbury and later scored on a ground out for South Panola (5-7, 0-1).
Tupelo, which left 12 runners on base, scored two runs in the third off Mitchell Babb, a left-hander.
Collin Dexter walked and later scored on a wild pitch while Connor Carothers reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a ground out by Sanders West.
Proud of pitching
“Usually when you leave that many on base it comes back to haunt you,” Enis said. “I’m proud of our pitching for keeping us in the game. To compete in this division we’ve got to get better clutch hitting throughout our lineup.”
Wave second baseman Kirk Roberts, who had two of his team’s six singles, believes youth may play a role in his team’s offensive woes.
“Everybody’s young, but it will come around,” said the senior. “We’ve got a bunch of young guys who haven’t played. They’ve got to get out here and start swinging.”