Patrick Little was down to the final pitch of his at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. With a 3-2 count and a belt-high pitch approaching, Little’s home run swing ended Northeast Jones Baseball Tournament’s opening game Thursday afternoon.
The lefty-swinging junior’s walk-off home run lifted Northeast Jones past Wayne Academy 2-1 as the Tigers improved to 6-1 on the eve of its Region 5-4A opener scheduled for Friday evening at 5 p.m.
“I went to the plate with the approach of just hitting it into play,” said Little. “I got it down to a 3-2 count, and at that point, it’s about a mindset. I can’t remember exactly where the pitch was; I think it was a mid-pitch. Once I swung at it and put the bat on it, I saw it travel, and I was like we can just sit back, relax and call it a homer.”
Click on the link to see a video of Little’s walk-off home run and celebration: https://youtu.be/2zdArJ79rcY
Little scored the only other NEJ run of the afternoon. With the bases loaded and two-out in the bottom of the fourth, Little scored Alex Harrison from third on a sharp hit single in the infield. The run tied the game 1-1. He finished the day 2-of-3 at the plate.
Northeast Jones, though, didn’t play its best game in the field.
“Reid Reynolds didn’t have his best stuff on the mound for us,” Parker said. “It was his third start of the year, but he does finish strong for us. He worked through some trouble. We dropped a fly ball in left field, and it lets them [Wayne Academy] score the first run. Other than that Reynolds battled through it and gave us six good innings.”
In the six innings, Reynolds worked, the right-handed senior allowed no earned runs on five hits and two walks. He finished with four strikeouts. Dylan Greer came in and pitched the top of the seventh, giving up no runs on no hits.
Wayne Academy’s solo run came in the top of the second inning when Logan White scored on an RBI single off the bat of Jared Singleton. White reached base on a miss played fly ball by left fielder Russell Coleman.
Northeast Jones also committed an error in the third inning, but it didn’t prove costly.
Parker was relieved to get the win, despite sloppy play at times.
“Going into our district game tomorrow night, we certainly didn’t want to lose one,” Parker said. “It’s always a fight and a battle when we’re not in our routine. We started out slow. We got our kids straight out of class, and they had to get dressed, stretch, throw and jump on the field and play. But overall it’s a good win.”
The Tigers scored two runs on six hits and left five runners on base.
Northeast Jones will open Region 5-4A play Friday night against Quitman at 5 p.m. and Lamar Christian in non-district play at 7 p.m.