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A strong defensive effort helped the Bulldogs in their division win over Shannon, 9-4, and with a little help from Itawamba, New Albany now sits in first place in Region 1-4A.
The ‘Dawgs jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second, scoring three runs off a bases loaded double by Tyler Beaty, accompanied by an RBI single from Joshua Googe and a Red Raider error that plated Easton Hall.
Riley Alef made it a 9-0 game in the fifth with his grand slam, but the ‘Dawgs could not pick up one more run to end the game in five innings.
“We got a big blow from Riley and had a chance to get that tenth run in both the fourth and fifth innings, but we couldn’t quite get it, but we battled and it’s good to get those extra innings in,” NAHS Head Coach John Walker said.
Tyler Basil picked up the win, pitching six innings, allowing one run with three hits. Before he was replaced by Googe, Basil would walk four straight in the seventh, giving Shannon their first run.
“The strike zone changed around a little for us, and that’s unfortunate because Basil deserved to finish that game,” Walker said. “The strike zone got really tight for him, and he just couldn’t hit his spots in that inning. Googe came in and did a really good job finishing up for us.”
Googe allowed two RBI singles from Andrew Collier and Anthony Mallard before closing out the game. At the plate, Drew Wray, Beaty and Hall each had multiple hits for New Albany, but it was the defensive effort Walker was most proud of.
“That’s the first time all season that I’ve felt really good about how we’ve played defense,” he said. “I think we turned three double plays, and more than that, guys were where they were supposed to be. That’s big for us, because that’s what we have to do to be successful.”
With Itawamba handing North Pontotoc their second division loss Friday night, the Bulldogs now move into first place with two-game sets versus Tishomingo County and the Vikings coming up in the final weeks of the regular season.
“That’s a positive, always, but we still have two weeks to play, and we’re not quite ready to scoreboard watch yet,” Walker said. “It’s going to come down to the next weeks. Tish. County is always a very tough opponent and then North, who everyone feels are the class of the division, but you know, New Albany has a pretty good team, too. I think we’ve got a good shot, but we have to continue to work and get better.”
At 14-5 (5-1) the Bulldogs will host Lafayette for Senior Day on Saturday and host Tishomingo County next Tuesday, April 12.