TUPELO- The North Mississippi Junior Indians' "Red" squad (16U) opened the Tupelo Junior Tournament with a hard fought 4-2 victory over the host Tupelo (Junior) 49ers last Friday.
Reece Kentner (North Pontotoc) played a big role for the Indians. Kentner drove in two of the team's four runs while going 4-4 at the plate; he also tossed a complete game on the mound, dominating the 49ers with 13 strikeouts and only two hits allowed.
The Indians took an early 1-0 lead when Kentner smacked a RBI double in the top in the 1st inning. The Tupelo plated a run to tie things up in the bottom of the frame, but Kentner would hold them scoreless over the next four innings, which saw him record 10 strikeouts.
The Indians scratched across another run in the 3rd to pull back ahead. With two outs Drake Douglas was hit by a pitch. Trace Ash (South Pontotoc) entered as a pinch runner, advancing to second base on a wild pitch. Kentner then singled to put runners on the corners. Ash would race home on another wild pitch to make it 2-1.
Tupelo threatened to score in the 4th, as a double and beat out attempted fielder's choice put runners on 1st and 3rd, but Kentner fanned the next two batters to escape unscathed.
Ash walked with one out in the top of the 5th, and Kentner drilled a triple to left field to drive him home. Jon Robert Carnes (Pontotoc High) then stepped up to the plate, hitting a sharp grounder to third. Courtesy runner Ty Long slid under the tag on an attempted force out at home plate, giving the Indians a 4-1 lead.
Tupelo got a lead off triple in the bottom of the 6th and subsequently cut their deficit to 4-2 on a sacrifice fly. They brought the tying run to the plate after dropped fly ball, but Kentner fanned the next two batters to close out the win (due to time limit).
"Reece threw the ball excellent," said Indians head coach Scotty Kyle.
On Saturday morning the "Red" Junior Indians defeated Tuscaloosa 9-6. Later that day they fell 7-4 to Lawrence, Tennessee. They entered Sunday's championship round as the top seed out of their pool before falling to 4-3 to Tuscaloosa despite a great pitching performance from Jon Robert Carnes, who did not allow an earned run.
"This young team hung in there with all these older groups this weekend," Kyle said. "They played well."