BOONEVILLE - The North Pontotoc Vikings (7-1) surrendered an early lead but surged in the final frame to defeat the Harding Academy Lions from Memphis, Tennessee 6-5 last Tuesday at the Booneville Spring Break Tournament.
The Vikings banged out 11 hits in the contest, including a single by James Clay McGregor in the top of the 7th inning which proved the difference-maker.
Viking lead-off hitter Kaden Wilson was hit by a pitch from Harding Academy starter Ricky Turnmire to start things off in the top of the 1st inning. He eventually scored on a passed ball, and Wes Steele plated Bo Howell with an RBI single to make the score 2-0.
Harding Academy answered in the bottom of the frame, as Grey Arnett singled to left-center off Viking starter Hunter Miles. Cameron Harden followed with a single to left, and Andy Bartholomew drove in Arnett with a single for the Lions’ first run.
North third baseman Jackson Wise turned in a nifty snag and threw across the diamond for a put-out to record the first out of the inning. North pitcher Hunter Miles struck out the next two batters to strand a pair of Lions on the base paths to preserve a 2-1 Viking lead.
Singles by McGregor and Miles came to naught in the top of the 2nd inning, as the Vikings were unable to score.
A two-out single by Harding Academy’s Octavius Lamar did not phase Miles in the bottom of the frame, as he escaped the inning by inducing a ground ball.
The Vikings engineered a run in the top of the third, as Ty Roberson doubled to right-center, and Wes Steele drove him in with a single to center, part of his team-leading 3-4 day at the plate, making the score 3-1 North.
The Lions retook the lead in the bottom of the 3rd. The inning started with a defensive gem by North’s West Sutton at second base, knocking down a hot shot, recovering, and getting the out at first. Singles by Bartholomew and Tucker Mullinix set the stage for an RBI-double to right by Maddox Crawford. A Viking error allowed the Lions to plate two more runs and take the lead 4-3.
After Harding Academy led off the bottom of the 4th with a single and a walk, Sam Dowdy took the mound in relief for the Vikings. Dowdy made a quick snag on a comebacker to the mound, and threw home for a force out. He got a much-needed strikeout of Cam Hudson. Then Mullinix drew a bases-loaded walk, making the score 5-3 Lions before a fly out ended the inning.
Reece Kentner was hit by a pitch to start the top of the 6th. He advanced to second on an error and scored when Miles lined a single to left field to cut the Vikings' deficit to 5-4.
After their first two batters were retired in the top of the 7th, the Vikings were down to their final out. Howell and Wes Steele followed with singles, and Kentner tied the game at 5-all when he drove in Howell with a base hit. James Clay McGregor then stepped up to the plate and drove a single to left field to drive in Wes Steele, giving North a 6-5 lead.
Harding Academy put two on with two outs in the bottom of 7th before Dowdy struck out Turnmire to end the game.
Wes Steele finished 3-4 with 2 RBI at the plate for the Vikings. McGregor, Miles and Howell also had multiple hits.
Dowdy picked up the win for North on the mound, giving up only one hit and no runs while striking out four over four innings of work.
In other Booneville tournament action last week, the Vikings defeated Lafayette 8-6 earlier in the day on Tuesday. Kaden Wilson and Bo Howell each went 2-3 with 2 RBI for North. Wes Steele finished 2-4 and drove in a run.
On Wednesday North defeated Lake Cormorant 3-1 in a game that saw only five combined hits between the two teams. Ty Roberson tied the game 1-1 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 1st inning, and Reece Kentner smacked a 2-run double in the 3rd for the 3-1 final margin. Kaden Wilson went the distance on the mound in the 4-inning game, allowing 2 hits and 1 run with 4 strikeouts.