NEW ALBANY – The Ripley Tigers wrapped up their appearance in the NEMCABB Summer Championship Tournament on Wednesday, June 23, as they made a run all the way to the championship finals before being defeated by South Pontotoc 7-5.
“We were playing catch-up the whole time,” Ripley head coach Joel Gafford said of the championship final defeat. “I was proud of our effort to battle back, we just never could quite put anything together to jump back ahead there.”
After Ripley’s 3-0 performance in last week’s summer regionals in Ecru, the Tigers began their run in this week’s tournament with an 8-0 victory over New Hope. Ty Long got the start on the mound and went the distance for Ripley, pitching seven shutout innings while allowing only three hits, no walks, and striking out ten New Hope batters. Reed Scott and Cooper Davis combined for three RBI’s while Conner Graves picked up three hits.
Long was not the only Tiger to pitch a complete game, as Graves got the start in Ripley’s semi-final win against Amory and went the distance, pitching six solid innings. Ripley jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first after a two-run double by Graves and a sacrifice fly by Scott. Amory responded with a pair of runs in the third inning to tie score 2-2 before Tanner Allen drove in a run in the bottom of the fourth to put Ripley up 3-2.
Amory threatened to retake the lead in the top of the fifth with a leadoff single and a double right after, but the Tigers managed to keep their lead intact, and expanded on it in the bottom of the frame with RBI’s from Davis and Curt Cohea. A pair of Graves strikeouts and a groundout sealed the 5-2 win for Ripley, setting up a championship appearance against South Pontotoc.
The Tigers were forced to play catch-up for a majority of this contest after a first inning that saw South Pontotoc score three runs. Ripley got on the board in the bottom of the second after a Jack Reid RBI single, and tied the game 3-3 in the third, after a Davis double led to an Allen RBI. South Pontotoc scored another pair of runs in the fourth, but Ripley responded immediately with a Graves RBI and a Davis walk that forced home a run.
South Pontotoc pulled away in the last innings of the game, scoring a run in the fifth and sixth innings while stopping Ripley’s momentum and taking the 7-5 win.
“It’s a good starting point for us, but we know we gotta get better,” Coach Gafford said of his team’s overall performance in the tournament. “It’s enough to leave us feeling like we did something good by getting here, but then it leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth, so we’ll work to get better. Proud of their effort.”