Alex Burris scattered seven hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings Saturday as Alma continued its recent run of solid pitching with an 8-2 win over the Ozark Hillbillies.
Burris (1-0) had issues just a couple of times, allowing four hits and two runs in the third and walking two with two outs in the sixth, after he appeared to tire.
Alma (7-10) has won seven of its last 11 games, including three in a row.
After Burris walked Coleman McClure and Ty Radley in the sixth, Ross struck out Dalton Lewis to end the inning. Ross struck out three more hitters in seventh, overcoming Taylor McIlroy’s single, Toby Richard’s one-out walk, and Shae Kelly’s two-out hits batsman.
“We have to play good defense and the pitchers have to throw strikes,” Alma shortstop Nate Whitson said. “We have to get the bats going.”
Friday, Alma pitchers Collin Ogilvie and Brett Farris combined for 24 strikeouts in a doubleheader sweep of Huntsville.
“He (Burris) threw the ball well,” Alma coach Kevin Edwards said. “I thought once he settled down and got out of the third inning, he pitched well. Dylan (Ross) came in and threw strikes, and that’s what we’ve gotta have.”
Ozark (8-10) struck first Saturday, scoring twice in the third with four straight two-out hits. Alex Williams started the rally with a bunt single, and then Richard hit a hit-and-run single to center — a play in which Richard alertly raced to second when Alma center fielder Adam Wilbanks threw to third base, even though there wasn’t a play.
Tripp White then hit a towering fly ball to right that eluded Will Montgomery for a two-run double. Kelly followed with a single to left, but was thrown out trying to steal second by Alma catcher Adam Brown.
The Airedales responded in their half of the third, with a lot of help from the Hillbillies.
Ross reached on an error to start the inning, and after Newt Peters blooped a single to left field, Montgomery reached on a throwing error after laying down a sacrifice bunt.
One out later, Wilbanks singled home Montgomery to tie the game at 2-2, and after Burris walked, Whitson lined a two-run double to left to give Alma the lead for good.
Ogilvie then reached on a throwing error, allowing two more runs to cross.
“We have stuff we have to fix,” Ozark coach Matt Coleman said. “The biggest thing I get aggravated about is when we make a bad play, the first thing we’ll do is look down. Then what happens? The ball is going to find you. Eventually we’ll figure it out.”
Wilbanks singled home Peters to make it 7-2 in the fourth and Burris capped the scoring by driving in Keenan Reeves with a two-out single in the sixth.
“We’ve put a couple of wins together and need to carry it over,” Whitson said. “We need to finish conference strong, so we can get a good playoff seed.”
ALMA 8, OZARK 2
Ozark 002 000 0 — 2 8 3
Alma 006101 x — 8 5 1
Williams, McClure (2), Lewis (4), White (6), Walls (6) and McIlroy. Burris and Brown. W - Burris, 1-0. L - McClure