Thursday, August 11, 2004

Sawyer contributes to Sox’s success

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

The Pontotoc Red Sox recently finished second in the Senior American Legion State Baseball Tournament, and a Marshall County player was one of the contributors in the 25-12 season.

Scott Sawyer of Byhalia was a catcher for the Red Sox. The 2004 graduate of Marshall Academy will be a sophomore for the Northeast Community College Tigers.

“Scott did a real good job for us,” said Nickey Browning, who completed his 31st season of coaching American Legion baseball. “Scott is the type of kid you want on your ball club. I saw him catch at Northeast and knew he would help us. I look forward to seeing him succeed at Northeast this year.”

The Red Sox were forced to battle back from the loser’s bracket in the tournament, which they hosted. They lost to the Tupelo 49ers Saturday and then beat West Point and Jackson on Sunday to reach Monday’s finals (August 1) against rival Tupelo. They had to beat the 49ers twice for the crown.

Pontotoc outscored the 49ers 14-11 in game one and then dropped game two 15-5.

“We gave up 10 runs in the first inning (of the deciding contest),” Coach Browning said. “When you get off to that bad of a start, it’s hard to recover.”

In that initial inning, three Pontotoc pitchers collectively issued five walks, hit two batters and threw four wild pitches.

He said his Red Sox had another solid season, but this 2005 team didn’t perform up to its capabilities.

“On paper, I thought it was one of the stronger teams we’ve had,” Browning said, “but on the field, we didn’t play as well as we should have.”

One year ago, Pontotoc won the state title and came in second in the regional, its highest finish ever.

“This year we played well at times, and then at times we just did not play like we were capable. I’m not sure why – maybe bad coaching.

“We played similar in the last game of the state tournament. We had that one bad inning.”

Another highlight of the season was a second place finish in a tournament in Columbia, Tenn, which featured five state champions from 2004.

“I was very proud of the way we played there,” Browning said. “It was a good tournament for us against some strong competition.”

He said parents are a key to the success of the American Legion program, and he thanked Terry and Sarah Sawyer for their support.

“I really appreciate their help,” Browning said. “They helped us a lot.”

Tupelo advances to the Mid-South Regional in Pine Bluff, Ark., beginning August 19.


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