The third-seeded Indians out slugged the fifth-seeded Portageville Bulldogs 12-7 Wednesday afternoon at Indian Park to put a close to the Bootheel Conference Tournament and gain some very important momentum for the rest of the season. With the victory, the Indians move to three games above the .500 mark at 10-7.
"This was a very big win," Watkins said. "It is all about momentum, and right now we are playing really well. We were down to our No. three guy and he just didn't get the breaks behind him defensively. So we went back to the guy that has carried us a while Dylan Gurley and since he didn't have to throw a lot of pitches, he was able to come back and throw good today."
Portageville (9-8) came ready to play in the first 2 1/2 innings of play as they grabbed a 5-1 advantage to place all the pressure on the hitters of the Indians. Jordan Penn and C.J. Medley plated the first two runs of the game because of excellent base running execution. Penn later scored another run along with Casey Ash and Jordan Robbins in the top half of the third frame to increase the Bulldogs' lead to four runs.
Cory Chamberlain started the ballgame for the Bulldogs and pitched effectively through three inning, but his fastball started catching the middle of the strike zone and the Indians took full advantage of his mistakes, which unfortunately made his the losing hurler in the contest.
Tim Gardner and Matt Kennedy each scored on hits by Gurley and William Norris in the third inning to pull the Indians within a run. Gurley took over on the hill for Gardner in the fourth inning and calmed the bats of the Bulldogs considerably in the process to pick up the win in relief.
Coach Lee Wallace was proud of his guys' efforts in the game.
"We avenged a loss to Kennett and avenged one to South Pemiscot," Wallace said. "That was good for our confidence and we may have been a little overconfident because we knew (Dylan) Gurley threw yesterday. You have got to let it go sometimes and we caught fire."
"We jumped out 5-1 and we didn't drive the nail. They might have been a hit or two or run or two from coming unglued themselves, but we will never know. Hats off to Joey (Watkins), there is not a better guy to loose to. We will bounce back and hopefully get ready for this district coming up." The Indians took the lead for good on a single by Gurley in the fourth inning that brought Kennedy in to score. Kennedy and Gurley each had three runners driven in the game. Kennedy and Kyle Gilmore led Hayti with three runs plated apiece.
The Bulldogs pulled within 8-7 in the fifth inning with the middle part of the lineup continuing to do damage. However Gurley settled down to get Chad Cook to groundout to end the threat.
Penn went 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs scored while teammate Jordan Robbins was 3-for-4 with two runs batted in.
Portageville's Wallace appreciated his pitching staff's effort in the tournament as he had a couple banged up.
"Well we have three pitchers that are as good as I have ever had," Wallace said. "We had some pitchers injured, but we also kicked the ball around and so did they. We grew today and hopefully we can learn from it."