Starkville outlasts New Hope in baseball

March 29, 2009

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Yellow Jackets experienced another walk-off victory at home on Saturday afternoon. 


For the New Hope Trojans, it was a another disappointing loss. 


After Blake Dawkins singled in the winning run last Tuesday to help Starkville defeat Tupelo 3-2, it was R.J. Johnson''s turn to do the same. 


This time the game-winning hit came in the 10th inning as Starkville beat New Hope 2-1. 


"It''s great to get a win, especially against a quality program like New Hope," Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said. "Stacy (Hester) and those guys do a great job. The thing about it, his kids never quit, but I was proud of our guys with the way we battled back and won. 


"R.J. had been struggling as of late, but he got a pitch where he could drive the ball." 


Starkville (11-3) ended the game when Johnson lined a pitch up the middle to score Jayson Keel from second base. Keel was hit by a pitch by New Hope starting pitcher Jake Upton with one out in the 10th and then he stole second. 


Upton was effective throughout the game with nine strikeouts and scattering only four hits. 


Hester didn''t have a pitch count on Upton, but didn''t believe it was a factor because of his style. 


"He''s not a fireballer and throws a knuckleball so it''s not going to tire his arm as bad," Hester said. "It was strictly his decision (to keep pitching) because the pitching coach and I both asked him. It was up to him and he already told me before that he could throw a lot of pitches. 


"We would have never had a chance to be in the game if he had not made great pitches inning after inning after inning." 


Johnson said Starkville hadn''t seen a knuckleball pitcher this year and Upton did "throw them off." 


The Yellow Jackets got a run off Upton in the sixth when Keel reached second base on an error and came home on a single by Daniel Forde. 


Forde was the starting pitcher for Starkville and it appeared that he had won the game for himself with his hit in a tight offensive game, but he ended up giving up the tying run in the seventh. 


After Davis Lee walked, courtesy runner Devin Herring moved to second on a walk to Brett Younger and to third on a bunt by Jake Smith. Herring scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Ferguson. 


Johnson, who pitched an inning of relief himself and had one walk with a hit batter, said the Yellow Jackets have a tendency to make it hard on themselves. 


"Sometimes we put ourselves in those situations, but luckily we got out of it," Johnson said. 


Nick Brooks also struggled in the one inning he pitched for Starkville by loading the bases with two walks and a hit. He got out of the jam by forcing a home-to-first double play. 


Carlisle knows those things are magnified in a close and competitive game. 


"You can''t say you wish you had done this or wish you had done that," Carlisle said. "You''ve got to be on top of it all when you are in a 1-1 or 2-1 ballgame, especially when it goes extra innings." 


Johnson, Forde, Brooks and Bryan Koenig had one single each for the Yellow Jackets, while New Hope had one single each from Lee, Jake Upton, Will McReynolds, Hilton Gibson and Phillip Tice. 


New Hope (14-7) left 12 runners on base, which resulted in its fifth one-run loss of the season. 


"We had a lot of confidence coming in here," Hester said. "We see their No. 3 (pitcher) and couldn''t hit him. We had opportunities to score, but we just couldn''t get the big hit and that''s what was killing us when we lost those one-run games early." 


n New Hope 13, West Point 3: At West Point, New Hope had a season-high 14 hits to beat West Point in six innings in a Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 game Friday. 


New Hope''s offensive attack was led by Will McReynolds with four singles, Davis Lee with a double and two singles, and Philip Tice and Jake Upton with two singles. Contributing with a single each were Josh Ferguson, Hilton Gibson and Jake Smith. 


Dillon Hawkins (2-2) went the distance on the mound to earn the win. He allowed three hits and struck out four batters.