The Bulldogs knew what they were up against, and for six innings, matched well with Amory and their ace pitcher, Will Cox. The Panthers eventually broke away in the seventh, scoring the lone run of the game to give them a 1-0 advantage in the third round series with a 1-0 win.
“That was a well-played game that neither team deserved to lose, really and truly,” NAHS head coach John Walker said. “Both pitchers were phenomenal. We got the pitches we needed out of Tyler (Basil) and he gave us a chance to win. They made a couple plays and that was the difference in the ball game.”
Basil pitched six innings, getting the ‘Dawgs out of several tough jams, the biggest in the sixth inning. The senior loaded the bases on two walks and a single with no outs, then struck out two and the defense made a play at home plate to keep the game scoreless. Basil finished with eight strikeouts, allowing four hits.
“I think you saw a different guy tonight, the one that was very similar to last year,” Walker said. “He was really, really good, and he had three pitches working for him. He was kind of shaky in the beginning, but in those middle innings, he was phenomenal. He gave us a chance to win.”
Amory opened the seventh placing two on base off an error and walk, and at that point, Basil was replaced by Easton Hall for the remainder of the game. After choosing to intentionally walk John Randle to load the bases, Chandler Riggs brought in the game-winning run with his single.
Offensively, the Bulldogs’ were stifled by Cox, as they we held to only three hits, two of which came in the first inning that placed a runner in scoring position. Cox pitched the complete game, finishing with 11 strikeouts.
“We’ve seen some really good arms this year, but what’s great about him is that he has three pitches that he throws very well, and in high school you don’t see a lot of tight sliders like that,” Walker said. “We knew he had it, and there’s not way you can prepare for it until you see it. He did a good job.”
The Bulldogs now look to today’s game two at home, and for Walker, the obvious choice on the mound will be Tyler Beaty, who helped give the ‘Dawgs a game three win against Lewisburg on Monday.
“He’s a seven inning, 100 pitch guy, and if we went with him tonight, that would put him with about 300 pitches in a week, and I didn’t feel real good about doing that on short rest,” Walker said. “I expect him to be pretty good tomorrow and give us a chance to win, and I expect it out of their guy, too. We’re going to give them our best shot, and I think Tyler Beaty is our best shot.”
Today’s game is slated for a 1 p.m. start at Legion Field.