SALTILLO – All it took from the Amory Panthers was one big inning on Friday afternoon.
Trailing 3-0 against Ripley in their second game of the Saltillo Tournament, the Panthers exploded for an eight-run bottom of the second inning, which propelled them to the 11-8 victory against the Tigers.
The win came after a 6-3 loss to Kossuth in the game before.
“It was sort of like we were hung up in second gear today until that inning,” Amory coach Chad Williams said. “I understand it’s spring break and that everyone is out of their normal routine, but I also understand that we have the chance to play ball and need to show up to play. Our main thing is competing, and we didn’t do that in the first game. We went through the motions, or we would have had a better opportunity to walk away with two W’s today.”
Ripley took advantage of a couple of Amory errors to roll out to its 3-0 lead in the first inning and a half.
Then in the bottom of the second inning, it was the Panthers that took advantage of Ripley’s mistakes, capitalizing on four hit batters and a walk to jumpstart their big inning.
Hunter Jones started things off by being hit by a pitch leading off, but a fielder’s choice erased him at second. Laine Phillips was also hit by a pitch, and Davis Helton loaded the bases with a single.
Drew Wallace drew the lone walk of the inning to bring in a run, and another fielder’s choice cut the runner down at home for the second out.
Luke Stephens came through with the first big two-out hit when his bases-clearing double burned the right fielder and put Amory up 4-3. Andin Johnson was hit by a pitch, and Ryan Ray drove in another run with a single up the middle. Jones was hit by a pitch for the second time in the inning.
Bo Rock had the second big hit of the inning with another bases-clearing double to make it 8-3 before the Tigers finally got out of the inning with a groundout to short.
“It’s definitely hard to overcome an eight-run inning,” Ripley coach Joel Gafford said. “They swung the bat and hit some balls pretty deep in the outfield and scored a lot of runs. They had some big two-out RBI and were aggressive with runners in scoring position. We gave up a lot of free passes too, and good teams make that hurt, which is what happened today.”
Ripley didn’t go away quietly, loading the bases on walks in the top of the third and scoring four runs in the frame to cut Amory’s lead to 8-7.
The Panthers extended the lead with a run in the bottom of the inning after Helton was hit by a pitch, Wallace and Stephens each singled, and Johnson picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Amory added two more runs on Cooper Jones’ two-run single after another Helton hit by pitch and a Wallace base hit before Ripley added its final run in the top of the fifth.
Phillips picked up the win in relief, going the final three innings.
Stephens, Rock and Wallace all led the way with two hits each.
“Drew Wallace had a big day for both games,” Williams said. “Those two doubles were big for us, and Laine threw well in relief as well.”