SPRINGFIELD — Heritage senior right-hander Trevor Clifton was the equalizer of sorts Tuesday evening in a Panama City Invitational matchup against Mosley.
The 6-foot-4 Kentucky commitment throws in the low to mid-90s, and the Mountaineers were expected to need his prowess considering that the Dolphins were riding a nine-game winning streak into their 15th start and Heritage had won once in just four games.
Mosley’s 9-2 victory probably pointed out a few other pertinent factors. The Dolphins, 14-1, have seen some dominant pitching in their district this year. They also feature a veteran ballclub, and Clifton’s season still is in its infancy and he was working on a foreign mound.
And, oh yeah, Mosley has a pretty good right-hander of its own in senior Joey Hair.
“We have seen a lot of good pitching,” Dolphins senior first baseman Logan Quimuyog said. “He’s very very good, but I think that helped us a lot.”
Mosley didn’t exactly rough up Clifton, but he already was nearing 100 pitches when lifted with two outs in the fourth inning. Mosley reached him for six hits, but more importantly only struck out twice.
Clifton struggled with location, walking five and hitting Bowen McGuffin twice with pitches. Five Mountaineer errors combined with eight Mosley hits by seven different players to produce the nine runs, only five of them earned.
“We’re very confident, but we’ve got to play our game every game,” Quimuyog stressed. “We all have each other’s backs, and we’re very focused.”
Quimuyog’s first-pitch double to the fence in left field keyed a three-run third inning that broke a 2-2 tie. That was all that Hair needed.
After yielding two first-inning runs, Hair pounded the zone in five shutout innings. He allowed three hits in six innings overall with eight strikeouts and one walk, that in the first. He was lifted prior to the seventh when his pitch count reached the mid-80s.
Mosley coach Todd Harless said Hair is almost all the way back from last year’s arm difficulties.
“You’ve got to hit him to beat him,” Harless said. “He’s very close. It might not have looked like it, but he got mad a couple of times when he missed his spots. That’s Joey Hair.”
Taylor Henderson pitched a scoreless seventh, although the Mountaineers did load the bases on Riley Hill’s pinch-hit single and two walks.
Hair walked Hunter Terry and Hunter Gilliland singled with one out in the first inning. Clifton’s groundball got under third baseman Zach Rhodes scoring Terry, and Ethan Dinkins’ RBI single made it 2-0.
Mosley responded in the home half on an RBI double by Brady Bell and Clay Causey’s RBI groundout. Hair’s infield single produced one run in the third and Heritage, 1-4, made two errors helping the Dolphins go on top 5-2.
They pulled away with two more in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Jordan Larry was the only player for either team with two hits. Brady Bell also had two RBIs for the Dolphins.
In other results Tuesday, Leon edged Gardendale 10-9 in eight innings and Thompson turned back Florida High 11-1. The Rutherford-Arnold late game was not expected to start until 8:30 p.m.
Thompson, 21-7, scored nine runs in the second inning on Monday when defeating Arnold. The Warriors got seven second-inning runs to defuse Florida High, 9-4.
Trevor Flynn added a solo home run in the fourth inning, Blake Grill had an RBI double in the fifth and Jesse Handlon’s RBI single induced the mercy rule in the sixth.
Peyton Johnson was the winning pitcher with help from Matt Sterling.
Wednesday’s schedule, with the teams’ tournament won-loss record in parentheses, will determine the place-game matchups on Thursday — Heritage (0-2) vs. Leon (1-1) 11:30 a.m., Rutherford (1-0) vs. Thompson (2-0) 2 p.m., Arnold (0-1) vs. Florida High (0-2) 4:30 p.m., Mosley (2-0) vs. Gardendale (2-0) 7 p.m.
- Heritage 200 000 0 — 2 4 5
- Mosley 203 211 x — 9 8 2
- Clifton (L), Brentner (4) and Smelcer; Hair (W), Henderson (7) and Gladden.
- LOB: Heritage 7, Mosley 9. E: Heritage 5 (Smelcer 2, Clifton 2, Johnson), Mosley 2 (Rhodes 2). DP: Mosley (9-3). 2B: Bell, Quimuyog, Causey. SB: Rhodes 2, Henderson, Brooks, Quimuyog. SF: Bell. HBP: by Clifton (McGuffin 2). PB: Smelcer. WP: Clifton, Brentner, Hair. RBIs: Heritage: Dinkins. Mosley: Causey 2, Bell 2, Rhodes, Hair, Gladden.