Northport silences Starkville

July 19, 2009

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


TUPELO -- Curveballs are the bane of many baseball players'' lives. 


The Starkville Dawgs 12-year-old Dizzy Dean team discovered Saturday just how effective that pitch can be. 


Deacon Medders and Jake Colburn combined on a five-inning two-hitter to lead the Northport Nationals (Ala.) to an 11-1 victory in the Dizzy Dean World Series at the Tupelo Sportsplex. 


The victory pushes the Nationals (2-0) into a meeting against Bill Bond Baseball (Pensacola, Fla.) at 5:30 p.m. today. 


Starkville (1-1) will face North Jackson or Tupelo at 10 a.m. today. The loser of that game will be eliminated. 


Starkville advanced to Saturday''s action thanks to a 17-7 victory against Jefferson Town, Ky., on Friday.  


Moorehead said the Dawgs'' bats came alive against the Kentucky state champions. He said solid defensive and pitching efforts complemented the effort. 


"They played great (Friday night). I was real proud of them," Moorehead said. "The game was a lot closer than the score indicated. The boys really put it all together." 


Moorehead said the Dawgs might have gotten a little "satisfied and relaxed" after that victory because the Nationals nearly silenced their bats. 


The Dawgs also made a few uncharacteristic defensive mistakes that helped the Nationals score three runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more runs in the second. 


Northport tacked on four more runs in the third and nearly had enough for the mercy rule, but Tyler Slayton was called out at home for not sliding with what have been the 10th run in the third. 


The 10-run mercy rule comes into effect after three and a half or four innings. 


Medders and Colburn made sure Starkville couldn''t muster much of a threat. 


Medders, a right-hander, used a curveball to keep the Dawgs off balance. Colburn, a left-hander, also used his curveball to keep Starkville out in front. 


"They are very well coached and did a fantastic job," Moorehead said. "You start to see the curveball at 12 years old, and it is my fault my team is not prepared for the curveball. I failed to do that. That is one thing we are going to do in the offseason. Their pitchers did a fantastic job throwing the curveball." 


Northport Nationals manager Scott Medders said his pitchers never are overpowering. Instead, he said they rely on changing speeds and hitting their spots to be effective.  


Medders and Colburn learned how to pitch like former Atlanta Braves great Greg Maddux playing for manager Medders with the Angels in the Warrior Baseball League in Alabama. 


"If we hit our spots and locate like we did today, we can be effective against a typical team you would see in the World Series," Medders said. "I call all of the pitchers and any of the pitchers who pitch for me have been doing that since March. We work every practice on location and changing pitches and trying to throw what the hitter is not expecting." 


On Friday, Harper Arnold and Hunter Peeples combined on the mound for Starkville. The team led 14-4 in the fourth and 115-5 in the fifth but couldn''t hold the 10-run lead to stop the game. 


Moorehead said the extra innings caught up to his team Saturday, when he used four pitchers. 


"We had to change our game plan on our pitching today," Moorehead said. 


Austin Burkis went 5-for-5 from the cleanup spot, and Michael Godley hit a home run to lead the hitting attack. Ben Moorehead, Jacob Batchelor, and Isaac Jamerson also had key contributions. 


While no coach wants to be one game away from elimination, Moorehead said the Dawgs have played well in that situation. He said the team has played in USSSA, has played travel ball, and in Dizzy Dean. He said the team came through the losers'' bracket and finished in the top 10 out of 34 teams in the USSSA State Tournament. He said the team also battled back in Little League play, so he feels his players like having little margin for error. 


"We like having our backs against the wall," Moorehead said. "There is no pressure. We''re just going to come out and play and try to work out way back. Actually, it is fun to be in the losers'' bracket and to win a few games and to get some confidence and come on back. We''re looking forward to doing it, and we want to be around for a long time." 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.