Go with the hot hand, or, in this case, arm.
It’s exactly what Northeast Jones baseball coach Jeremy Parker did Saturday afternoon. Throwing a list of pitchers last Monday night in a 5-3 loss to Lamar Christian, Parker, on Saturday afternoon against North Forrest, gave the start to the arm that most impressed him.
And all went well. Freshman LHP Dalton Tanner, in his first-ever varsity start on the mound, tossed a four-inning, one-hit shutout in The Jungle as Northeast Jones downed North Forrest in a five-inning contest, 14-0.
Northeast Jones improves to 5-1 on the season.
Shelby Nowell tossed the final inning to earn his first save on the hill as a sophomore.
“Tanner threw well for us,” said Parker. “He threw three good innings the other night, so we decided to give him the start today. I was proud of the way he came out and threw his fastball, changeup and breaking ball. Tanner is a ninth-grader, and this was his first start. So we were glad to get that out of the way. Shelby Nowell came in a did a good job of closing it out for us. He’s a guy that Coach McCroy is working within hopes of turning him into a reliever. And that was his second varsity inning for us.”
Tanner struck out half of the North Forrest batters he faced. The lefty had seven strikeouts and gave up just two walks. The solo hit against Tanner came in the third inning off the bat of North Forrest leadoff batter Dawson Lowery. Teammate Calvin Curry tried to get two bases on Lowery’s hit but was gunned out at third by Northeast Jones right fielder Mason Smith.
Saturday’s performance by Tanner and Nowell just added to the list of games Parker is pleased about in regards to his pitching staff.
“I was proud of this game,” said Parker. “The one game I didn’t like, Tanner was the only guy that dealt strikes on the mound. I was proud to see him do that again in his first varsity start as a ninth-grader. But now we expect that out of him because he’s done well in our inter-squad games. I had no doubts about his ability, but it’s different once they get out there on the field in a real game. But we try to put them in a position to win.”
The Jungle Cats hammered out 12 hits in the short affair led by junior slugger Tyler Harper who went flawlessly at the plate with three hits in three appearances. Harper highlighted a six-run inning in the third with a base-clearing double to increase Northeast Jones’ lead from 4-0 to 7-0. The junior added an RBI single in the fourth inning to give NEJ its last run of the day.
Reid Reynolds and Dayvis McLeod also had multiple hits in the win, shelling out two hits apiece.
“I was also proud of the way we swung the bats,” Parker said. “Thursday night at PRCC we had nine hits even though we only had two runs, then last night we ended up with 13 hits at Richton. Today I though we hit the ball even better, and we’ve seen all kind of pitchers the last three days.”
Northeast Jones improves to 5-1 on the season and will play Wayne Academy next Thursday at 2 p.m. to open up its multiple day baseball tournament.