NETTLETON – Nettleton ace Davis Oswalt was in his usual form in his first start of the playoffs.
Oswalt tossed a seven-inning no-hitter, striking out 13 and allowing his lone baserunner on an error in the Tigers’ 5-0 win over Independence on Thursday night.
Nettleton finished off the sweep with an offensive onslaught, 17-9, in Game 2 to set up a meeting with their division rival Amory in the third round.
“It feels good to get a no-hitter in the playoffs. I just tried to throw strikes and let my defense work,” Oswalt said. “I didn’t know if I would be able to come out and stay the same after the long rain delay, but I did.”
Oswalt quickly struck out the side in the top of the first, and the Tigers ended up putting up the majority of their runs in the bottom of the inning.
Adam Adkins and Oswalt jump started the offense with back-to-back singles, and Jackson Cheek drew a walk to load the bases.
Evan Smith cleared them with one swing, smoking a three-run double into the gap in left center field.
The two teams went into a rain delay after nearly starting the second inning, and the game resumed after an hour-plus delay.
Oswalt stayed in control, striking out five of the next six he faced.
Nettleton put up another run in the third when Cheek walked, stole second and third and scored on an error by the catcher on a pickoff attempt. Cade Oswalt and Carter Crawley also drew walks in the inning.
Davis Oswalt allowed his lone baserunner in the top of the fifth on an error on a tough play on a bunt, but he retired the next three in order with a pair of ground balls and a fly out.
In the final two innings, one ball left the infield on a fly out to right, and Oswalt added three more strikeouts to his total.
“Huge dominating performance by Oswalt on the bump,” Nettleton coach Joseph Koon said. “We gave him the week off last week, and he came out and looked fresh tonight, which what you want to see in the middle of the playoffs. He gave us what we needed on the bump and definitely a lot of fun to watch. He threw awesome and set the tone, and with that rain delay, you worry about that, but he did a good job of staying loose and coming out and picking up where he left off.”
Jaylon Betts drove in the final run of the night in the fifth with his RBI single after Smith reached on a dropped fly ball in the outfield. Oswalt blasted a triple in the bottom of the sixth but was stranded at third.
“We have to get better at our approach, and we didn’t get the energy going like we typically like to do from an offensive standpoint,” Koon said. “We had a couple of big hits, and scoring three in the first was huge and set the tone from that standpoint, but we have to get better.”
Game 2: Nettleton 17, Independence 9
Offense was plentiful for both teams as they combined for 28 hits, and Nettleton didn’t take the lead for good until seven runs in the sixth inning.
Nettleton put up a 3-0 lead in the first with RBI from Jackson Cheek and Cade Oswalt and went up 4-1 in the second on Davis Oswalt’s sac fly.
Independence answered by taking a one-run lead in the bottom of the second.
The Tigers weren’t able to answer until the fourth when Davis Oswalt’s two-run blast put them back up 6-5.
Carter Crawley tripled leading off the fifth and came in on Jaylon Betts’ grounder to make it 7-5, but that lead was short-lived as Independence tied it in the bottom half.
Oswalt, Cheek and Evan Smith put Nettleton back up quickly as Oswalt singled and scored on Cheek’s double, and Smith smoked an RBI triple after that.
Cade Oswalt, Jay Hawkins and Adam Adkins all had RBI hits in the rest of the big inning to put the Tigers up 14-7. Betts and Paxton Pannell drove in insurance runs with their hits in the top of the seventh.
Adkins was the winning pitcher with five and a third innings in relief.