By Dennis Clayton
Coach John Walker’s New Albany Bulldogs needed a win over neighboring divisional rival North Pontotoc and his troops came through in the clutch. Coach Walker said of the victory “Huge win tonight, we needed that. After starting the year 7-0, we had lost six straight and we kind of had a fear of being at .500 and being 7-7. Worse than that, we would have been 0-3 in the division. If we start this off 0-3 in the division, then making the playoffs becomes very difficult. So now we’re in great shape and we got an excellent performance on the mound by Ben Foster. After the first inning, he put up six zeroes and that’s what you want out of a senior ace.”
The first inning that Coach Walker was referring to saw North Pontotoc send eight batters to the plate and scoring two runs. The first run came on a Trey Jolly double which scored Miciah Heard and later in the inning Jolly scored. Ben Foster pitched out of a bases-loaded jam however by striking out the number eight batter and the Bulldogs trailed 2-1.
New Albany scored a run in the top of the third on a passed ball to close the lead to 2-1. Foster was rolling during innings two through four as North Pontotoc went in order each of those innings.
New Albany took the lead in the top of the fourth as they scored two runs by way of Grant Hogue’s walk and Jimmy Baldon reaching base after his fly ball was misplayed by the left fielder. Both runners scored on bases-loaded walks issued by North Pontotoc and the Bulldogs were up 3-2 going into the bottom of the fourth.
Neither team dented the scoreboard in the fifth inning, but New Albany came up with two runs in the top of the sixth. Jonah Zahller singled and Ben Foster walked with one out. On Hunter McCreight’s grounder, the throw to first was in the dirt and the batter was safe and two runs scored on what could have been out number three in the inning. These runs extended New Albany’s lead to 5-2.
North Pontotoc threatened in both the sixth and seventh innings but New Albany came up with the outs when they needed them to preserve the 5-2 win. Foster struck out the final two batters of the game to end on a strong note.
Coach Walker said “we are not a team that’s going to knock the cover off the ball. We got some opportunities tonight through walks and errors and a couple of base hits here and there to produce runs. We did a great job running the bases in the inning when we picked up two insurance runs and that was big.”