The Dale Pirates saw the best and worst of the Tupelo Tigers in Monday’s marquee home doubleheader.
Tupelo (No. 2 in Class B) committed 14 errors in Dale’s first seven at-bats — 10 of them in just four innings in a 17-7 run-rule loss to the Pirates (No. 2 in Class 2A) in Monday’s opener. But the Tigers bounced back to win the nightcap, 8-3, behind a 12-hit attack and a combined eight-hitter from their top two pitchers.
With the split, Tupelo left town at 20-7, while Dale dropped to 16-4 with the second-game loss.
“That was an unreal defensive showing we put out there today,” Tupelo coach Clay Weller said. “We hit the ball pretty well, but we have get some things worked out before the playoffs.”
Tupelo 8, Dale 3
Junior right-hander Trey Roberson (6-2) allowed one earned run over five-plus innings, and Matt Benedict came on to get the last six outs, after a leadoff double by Ethan Sellers and an RBI single by freshman Chase Byndas in the bottom of the sixth had plated Dale’s final run of the night.
“Trey gave us a big boost,” Weller said of Roberson, who allowed just four singles and two unearned runs over the first five innings to a Dale offense that banged out 16 hits in its four at-bats in the opener. “We needed a good start, and he gave it to us.”
Benedict, who earned his sixth straight victory with four innings of shutout relief in a 7-6 win over Rock Creek Friday at Tupelo, was outstanding again Monday. He pitched around a two-out single by Asa Manship to avoid further trouble in the sixth and worked around a one-out hit by Kyle Lemmings in the seventh to preserve Tupelo’s five-run lead.
And, although the Tigers committed four errors in the first four innings of Game 2, they also turned in a handful of highlight-reel defensive plays to help keep the Pirates off the board.
Jake Sanders, who moved from shortstop to center field for the nightcap after Tupelo committed three costly outfield errors in the opener, retired Dale cleanup hitter Tanner Goodwin on an over-the-shoulder catch near the wall in dead center field with a runner on base to end the first inning.
In the second, Benedict — who started for Sanders at short in Game 2 — made a back-handed stop in the hole and a strong throw to nip Manship at first for the final out. The play was even bigger than Sanders’ gem in the first, because the Pirates had already pushed across two unearned runs and had runners at second and third.
Brandon Maggia, whose long two-run homer in the top of the sixth gave the Tigers an 8-2 lead, ended the fourth when he charged in from third base to field a nice bunt by losing pitcher Tanner Nelson and threw him out by an eyelash with a runner at second.
And after moving back to shortstop when Benedict took the mound, Sanders made a nice back-handed stop on a ground ball in the hole off the bat of Tyler Skeen (the first batter Benedict faced) and made a strong throw across his body to second to retire Byndas for a big first out.
Two Dale errors fueled a five-run rally in the top of the second that gave Tupelo the lead for good. Three of the Tigers’ five hits in the inning were infield singles, and Tanner Davis capped the rally with an RBI single to left.
After Tupelo’s second and third errors of the game helped the Pirates score twice in the bottom of the second, the Tigers answered with a run in the third on a leadoff single by Kade Curry (the second of his four straight hits), Roberson’s line-hugging, line-drive double into the left field corner and H. D. Bullard’s sacrifice fly.
Sanders walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the sixth and scored when Maggia lined a 1-0 pitch far over the fence in right-center for a no-doubt home run.
Roberson and Davis had two hits apiece to go with Curry’s four singles in Game 2, and Curry scored twice for the Tigers. Byndas, Sellers and Manship had two hits apiece for Dale.
“We could have rolled over and died after the first game, but the kids battled back,” Weller said. “That was good to see.”
Dale 17, Tupelo 7
Tupelo made at least one error in each of Dale’s four at-bats, helping the Pirates to 11 unearned runs — including two in the first inning, three in the third and five more in the fourth.
“I’ve never been associated with a game like that,” Weller said. “We couldn’t make routine plays.”
Dale took advantage of four Tiger miscues in a six-run first-inning outburst highlighted by Goodwin’s two-run double.
Maggia, the Tupelo starter, threw a staggering 59 pitches in the inning, and despite his pitch count, he got two strikes on six of the 12 batters he faced and threw a first-pitch strike to four of the other six.
Chat Henry and Curry (who hadn’t thrown a varsity innings between them this spring) finished up, allowing 11 runs (but only two earned) over the final three innings.
Tupelo’s fifth error of the game helped Dale score twice in the second to take an 8-0 lead, then the Tigers cut the deficit in half with four runs in the top of the third on Maggia’s two-run double and RBI singles by Benedict and Brandon Chamberlain.
But the Pirates extended their lead back to eight with four runs in the third on four hits — including an RBI double by Manship and RBI single by Evan Anderson — and two more Tupelo errors.
Dale then blew the game open with five unearned runs in the fourth on four hits — consecutive run-scoring singles by Lemmings, Jace Flewanllen, Sellers and Byndas — and Tupelo’s eighth, ninth and 10th errors.
The Tigers made a bid to keep the game going, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth — the last two on an RBI double by Davis and Chamberlain’s sacrifice bly — before Goodwin, the Dale starter, struck out Curry and Roberson to end the game.
While no Tupelo hitter had more than one hit in the loss, Dale got three hits apiece and a combined five runs and three RBIs from Flewallen and Lemmings and three RBIs from Goodwin.