WEST POINT, Mississippi — Jordan Talley says he is a football player first.
But, like many dual-sport athletes, the Silliman Institute senior acknowledges football takes a back seat to baseball at this time of the year.
On Tuesday, it was hard for Talley to argue against baseball, as he pitched a one-hitter to lead the Silliman Institute baseball team to a 4-1 victory against Oak Hill Academy in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA championship series.
Game 2 will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Clinton. If needed, Game 3 would follow about 30 minutes after the previous game.
Talley, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, is a standout defensive end who has signed to play football at Nicholls State. He said he has talked to the football coaches at Nicholls to assure them football will come first later this year. He also said he hopes to see if he can get a chance to continue his baseball career in college. His five-walk, seven-strikeout effort made believers out of the Raiders, whose only hit was an infield single by Trevor Turner in the sixth inning.
“I kind of figured it out, except for all of the walks, that nobody had gotten on base off a hit, so I kind of knew,” Talley said when asked if he knew he had a no-hitter.
Talley said anything can happen in a state championship series game, so he knew had to bear down and work through the frustration of walking two batters in the third and sixth innings. He benefited from key plays and pitches in both innings. In the third, leadoff batter Drake Riley was retired on a hard ground ball that deflected off Talley to third baseman Tre Berthelot, who threw to first for the out. Two walks followed before Collins Brown was retired after the umpires determined he leaned into a pitch on 3-2 for the second out. An infield out ended the inning.
In the sixth, Oak Hill (16-8) scored after Turner singled, moved to second on a walk by Riley Pierce, stole third, and came home on a throwing error. But Talley struck out Drew Riley after falling behind 3-0 to escape further damage.
In the seventh, Berthelot started a 5-4-3 double play that erased Heath Ford, who reached on an error by Talley. The game ended on a hard ground ball by Chance Wilson that shortstop Cole Jackson dove to stop. His dive to his left deflected the ball to second baseman Caleb Jackson, who threw to first.
“That is the second game in a row that he has had his stuff, and he worked ahead in the zone,” Silliman Institute coach John Beauchamp said. “He has been able to locate his offspeed and his fastball, so he has been able to be pretty successful. It has really helped us out.”
Talley said he adjusted to the home plate umpire’s strike zone that gave pitchers the low strike. He said he also tried to keep the Raiders off balance by moving the ball in and out. He said finding his curveball in the middle innings added his cause.
“I know my ability to throw strikes, and sometimes they’re going to hit and sometimes they’re going to miss,” Talley said. “I have a great defense behind me, too, so I can let them hit it and they will turn double plays.”
Silliman scored all the runs it needed in the third. Michael Davidson doubled and scored on a one-out single by No. 9 hitter Caleb Jackson, who had two hits. Darian Tunstall’s two-run single scored Jackson and Zach Kelly, one of four Silliman players hit by a pitch.
Silliman added an insurance run in the fourth. Davidson doubled and scored on a single by Caleb Jackson.
Tunstall also had two hits, while Brian Siebert had the team’s other hit.