Benford pitches Phil Campbell past Vina

By Staff
Mike Self, Franklin County Times
VINA – After a day full of offensive fireworks, Jordan Benford put on a show of his own on the mound Wednesday afternoon.
Phil Campbell's young hurler, only an eighth-grader, struck out nine batters in a complete game four-hitter as the Bobcats positioned themselves to claim the No. 1 seed in today's Franklin County Tournament with a 12-1 win over Vina.
The first two games of Wednesday's round-robin play (Vina's 8-7 win over Belgreen and Phil Campbell's 9-8 victory over Red Bay) saw a total of 32 runs and 41 base hits, but Benford delivered the best pitching performance of the day.
"He pitched a good game for us," said head coach Micheal Beck, whose Bobcats (5-11) needed a win yesterday over Belgreen to wrap up the top seed for today's single-elimination tournament. "He actually did a little better than I expected. The umpire had a pretty big strike zone, and Jordan took advantage of that. He did a good job of keeping the ball down."
The Bobcats gave Benford plenty of offensive support, scoring six runs on seven hits in the top of the first inning.
"It's always nice to give a young pitcher a big early lead like that," Beck said. "It helps them relax and just focus on throwing strikes."
Benford did just that, throwing only 60 pitches in six innings without issuing a single walk. The Bobcats turned double plays in the third and fourth innings, helping limit the young righthander's pitch count.
Korey Pounders led the way for Phil Campbell at the plate and on the bases, going 3-for-4 with four stolen bases and two runs scored. Chase White and Dylan Hamby each had two hits and two RBIs.
"We hit the ball pretty well today, but not as well as I would like," Beck said. "We did some things on the bases to make them throw it around a little, and that helped us create some scoring opportunities."
The Bobcats finished with 11 hits and 10 stolen bases.
Steven Lacey started Phil Campbell's six-run first inning with an RBI double. Caleb Thompson singled home Lacey, and White's RBI double made it 3-0. Hamby followed with a two-run single, and Pounders drove in another run with his second hit of the inning to make it 6-0.
Vina freshman Brent Townsend settled into a groove thereafter, retiring nine consecutive batters. He did not allow another hit until the top of the fifth, when an RBI single by White sparked a three-run rally. The Bobcats tacked on three more runs in the top of the sixth.
Vina's lone run came on an RBI single by Kyle Green in the bottom of the first. Paul Wilkins had two hits and scored a run, and Max Weeks added one hit.
In other action on Wednesday:
Phil Campbell 9 Red Bay 8
Cody Armstrong's grand slam in the top of the third inning gave Red Bay an 8-4 lead, but the Bobcats rallied to win on Caleb Thompson's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.
Phil Campbell began to chip away at the four-run deficit with three runs in the bottom of the third. Jordan Benford had an RBI triple and then scored on a groundout to make it 8-6, and Jonathan Dill's RBI single pulled the Bobcats within one.
Phil Campbell tied the game with a run in the fifth, and Adam Mitchell shut Red Bay down with two scoreless innings of relief.
Steven Lacey was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the seventh and later scored on Thompson's game-winning hit down the right field line.
Mitchell, the Bobcats' third pitcher of the game, earned the win. Armstrong, the fourth Tiger pitcher to take the mound, got the loss.
Both teams turned to some of their top pitchers in the late innings with the game hanging in the balance.
"It's a big rivalry game," Phil Campbell coach Micheal Beck said. "Our kids like to beat Red Bay, and they like to beat us."
Thompson finished with three hits to lead the Bobcats, and Korey Pounders went 2-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases. Dill had two hits and two RBIs, and Benford also had two hits.
Nathan Hopkins led Red Bay with three hits and three RBIs. Morgan Stanfield and Dillon Massey each added two hits, and Stephen Prestage had a double.
Vina 8 Belgreen 7
The Bulldogs rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the game in the top of the seventh, but Randy Barnes delivered the game-winning RBI for the Red Devils in the bottom of the inning.
Barnes, Max Weeks and Kyle Green each had three hits for Vina, which fell behind 4-0 before tying the game with four runs in the bottom of the third. Weeks, Green, Brent Townsend and Blake Thorn each had an RBI for the Red Devils in the third.
Nash Creekmore's RBI double in the fifth gave Vina its first lead, and Green added a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-4.
Shane Fretwell doubled home two runs and then scored on a ground ball in the top of the seventh as Belgreen rallied to tie the game.
Vina won it in the bottom half when Thorn walked, stole second and then scored on Barnes' base hit to the right side.
Despite the win, Vina coach Greg Hamilton said he was concerned about his team's fundamental mistakes and failure to execute in certain situations. The Red Devils were called for four balks in the game, had two runners picked off first and also had three more thrown out at the plate.
"It's always good to win, and you hate to be pessimistic when you come out on top," Hamilton said. "But our kids are still not doing the things they've been coached to do. We're not doing the little things right, and we're letting teams hang around."
Weeks earned the win with three innings of relief.
Fretwell led the Bulldogs at the plate, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Marty Britton was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, and Jesse Edwards added two hits and two RBIs.