Even when Tigers’ southpaw Dalton Tanner allowed a baserunner – in every inning but the fifth – the defense behind him kept Raymond to just three batters and three outs. Behind the sophomore’s performance on the mound and a great night offensively led by Hinds signee Patrick Little, Northeast Jones pounded Raymond 12-4 Friday night in The Jungle in the opening game of the first round Class 4A playoff series. The Tigers go on the road Saturday night in Game 2 of the best of three series.
“Dalton Tanner has been dialed in ever since we came back from Spring Break,” said NEJ head baseball coach Jeremy Parker. “He’s hammered the strike zone and pitched ahead. Now he struggled a little bit tonight. Anytime it gets cold; we tend to lose a little bit of control, which I’d like to see us work through that. But right now that’s just the way it’s been.”
Click on the link to see a PHOTO GALLERY of Friday night’s game: http://sports601.com/index.php/gallery-page-nej-raymond-baseball/
Tanner, though he struggled briefly in the fifth, wasn’t totally to blame. Junior Mason Smith took to the mound to start the inning, and was quickly replaced by Tanner after issuing three straight walks on 12 consecutive pitches – two of those runners scored on wild pitches by Smith.
“Up 9-0, we wanted to pull Dalton out and give Mason a quick inning of work,” said Parker. “But that did quite work out. [When Dalton reentered] Raymond had a couple of dink base hits. Raymond ended up scoring four runs, which let them back in the ball game.”
After the fifth, Tanner continued with his three batters, three outs routine, thanks in part to the defense behind him. Tanner gave up just two runs on four hits in his nearly entire outing on the mound and finished with eight strikeouts.
At the plate, NEJ was just as productive. The Tigers hit three home runs on the night; the first came on the very first pitch to leadoff batter Mason Smith in the bottom of the first inning. The last dinger came in the fourth when Patrick Little hammered a two-run shot over the right field wall to give NEJ its 9-0 lead before the treacherous fifth inning put four runs on the board for Raymond. Little, who before the night was in somewhat of a hitting slump, went 3-for-4 at the plate.
“Little picked a good night to come out of the slump for sure,” said Parker. “He just missed the one the caught him out on. It always helps when we get some production out of that part of the lineup there.”
Dylan Greer had the other home run, leading off the third with a blast to put NEJ up 4-0.
NEJ finished with 12 base hits Friday night. Smith, Tyler Harper and Eli Collins had multiple hits in the contest.
The Tigers hope to close out the first round series with a win on Saturday and then prepare for a likely showdown with 4A powerhouse Sumrall in round two.
“We’d love to finish this series in two games,” noted Parker. “Raymond has had quite a bit of rain on Thursday with a tornado coming through, and they got more rain today so we’re still up in the air on whether we’ll get the game in on Saturday. Hopefully, we will and can get this series behind us so we can focus on Sumrall in the second round.”