By DAVID SEELEY
VANOSS — Both the Tupelo Tigers and the Vanoss Wolves had opportunities to score more runs than they did when the two ranked teams met Thursday afternoon. Fortunately for the Wolves — and unfortunately for the Tigers — it was Vanoss which took advantage of just one more opportunity than Tupelo.
A two-out, bloop RBI single by Casey Henry scored Eric Osborn from second in the eighth inning as the Wolves got past the Tigers 4-3 in extra innings.
“It came down to one hit,” Vanoss coach John Impson said. “All game long, it could have been us or them (to get the key hit). It was just that one hit that broke the game open.”
With the game tied at 3-3 after seven innings, the Wolves (15-5), ranked sixth in Class 2A, saw Tupelo relief pitcher Trey Roberson retire the first two batters of the eighth inning. But on an 0-2 count, Roberson hit Osborn with a pitch, then Dexter Priest reached on an error to put runners at first and second.
On another 0-2 pitch, Henry hit a Texas-Leaguer into right field which fell in front of Tupelo’s Caleb Stallcup. By the time Stallcup got the ball into the infield, Osborn raced around from second to score the game-winning run.
“We made a couple of mistakes,” Tupelo coach Clay Weller said.
The Tigers (12-5), ranked fourth in Class B, took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning on ball that never left the infield. With Jake Sanders on third and Tyler Griffin (pinch-running for designated hitter Brandon Maggia) on second, Nathan Hogue hit a ground ball to the hole between second and third for a base hit. By the time shortstop Osborn fielded the ball and threw to first to try and retire Hogue for the third out of the inning, both Tupelo runners crossed the plate.
But the Wolves tied the game at 3-3 in their half of the sixth as a two-out, RBI single by Henry scored Wesley Frederick with the tying run to set up both the extra inning — and Henry’s game-winning hit.
“They’re a great ball club,” Impson said. “They just had two errors. They put the pressure on you. They swing the bats well, and they do a lot of things right. They make you play. If you don’t, you’re going to get beat.”
Both teams scored once in the opening inning. Tupelo took a 1-0 lead on Kade Curry’s RBI single, but Vanoss tied the game at 1-1 in the home half of the frame. Osborn reached on a Tupelo error, went to second on Henry’s single and went to third on a Dakota Priest grounder. On Priest’s grounder, Henry was forced out at second, but Priest beat the double-play attempt at first base. All the while, Osborn never stopped running, and scored the first Vanoss run during the double-play attempt.
The game stayed that way until the fifth when the Wolves took their first lead as a one-out, RBI single by Dillon Childress scored Dexter Priest to make it 2-1.
While Vanoss stranded 12 runners on base to come up empty in some innings, it was Tupelo — which stranded only four baserunners and hit into a double play — which seemed snakebit offensively, and has been for quite a while according to Weller. Case in point about the snakebit-ness of things for the Tigers, Curry led off the fourth inning with a single, but with one out was doubled off when Matt Benedict’s line drive was caught by second baseman Clayton Mulliniks, who then threw to first baseman Dillon Childress to nab Curry to end the inning.
“We didn’t get enough done offensively,” he said. “We’ve got to do more offensively so we take some pressure off our (pitching) staff. Right now, we’re not doing that. I don’t know what the answer is.”
For the game, Henry was 4-for-4 with two runs batted in, Brett Lamb was 2-for-4 and Dexter Priest — who got the win to improve to 5-0 behind an 11-strikeout performance — aided his own cause with a 2-for-5 outing with a run scored for Vanoss.
“Dexter did a great job,” Impson said. “I didn’t like him to go as deep as he did, but he fought hard. I never had a question whether or not to pull him out.”
In defeat, Curry was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Tupelo. Roberson (1-1) suffered the loss in relief for the Tigers — despite striking out three batters in 2.2 innings pitched and giving up only an earned run, which tied the game in the sixth inning. The game-winning run was an unearned run.
“We’re putting way too much pressure on our (pitching) staff,” Weller said. “We’re not producing at the plate. We’re not getting good at-bats. That’s what is killing us.”
The Wolves were scheduled for only one game this afternoon against Rock Creek in Bokchito, but it has now become a festival with the Healdton Bulldogs joining the mix. After Rock Creek and Healdton play at 3 p.m., the ’Dogs and the Wolves will play at 5 p.m., followed by Vanoss and host Rock Creek (No. 10 in Class A) at 7 p.m.
The Tigers will be idle until 4 p.m. Monday when they travel to meet the Coleman Wildcats, ranked 15th in Class B.
Vanoss softball games Tuesday, Thursday canceled
The Vanoss Lady Wolves (4-8) are hoping to finally play a softball game this week, which they were scheduled to do at 4 p.m today at home against Bowlegs.
Tuesday’s road game at Wanette was canceled due to lack of umpires, and Thursday’s home game against Milburn was canceled due to the Lady Eagles ending their season early after not having enough players to field a team. The Wanette road game has not been rescheduled at this time.