ALEXANDRIA — If Blaize Kelly is just warming up, opponents beware.
Alexandria's junior ace threw his second consecutive complete-game shutout Saturday, and the third-ranked Tigers turned a pitchers' duel into a laugher late in a 9-0 victory against visiting Clinton Central.
"We knew it would be close," Alexandria coach Jeff Closser said. "This is the fourth year we've faced (Bulldogs starter Jeff Scott). We knew what he could do. We knew he could throw, and we knew that runs were going to be at a premium."
Scott — who surrendered just eight earned runs in 66 2/3 innings last season — nearly matched Kelly on the mound through the first four innings. The only blemish on either side was a two-out single by Alexandria sophomore Braxton Moore that scored junior Jake Clegg in the second inning.
But the Tigers got to Clinton Central's ace in the fifth.
Junior Jonah Jerrils led off with a single — just the fourth hit off Scott to that point — but the rally appeared to be snuffed when he was thrown out attempting to steal second. Junior Jessie Gossett followed with a line drive to center field that turned into a triple when the Bulldogs' outfielder failed to get a good read and fell down while tracking it down.
Senior Drew Johnson made the second chance hurt by beating out an infield single to score Gossett. Then the Tigers caught another break.
With two outs, Kelly lofted a fly ball to left field that bounced off the fielder's glove and an alert Johnson scored from first base. That chased Scott from the game, and Braden Warren followed with an RBI single off reliever Cole Simmons to give Alexandria a 4-0 lead.
"Late in the game, I thought we got the bats swinging pretty well," Closser said. "In about the third or fourth inning, we had a couple guys look at six straight fastballs right down the middle. When we got back in the dugout I said, 'You've gotta be aggressive. You know he's gonna throw strikes. Be aggressive.' Late in the game, we were aggressive."