March 25, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Blake Dawkins hoped for another opportunity.
The Starkville High School catcher struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth inning against Tupelo on Tuesday night, and the Yellow Jackets left three on base that inning.
In the seventh, the bases were loaded again with Dawkins at the plate. This time he singled in Jayson Keel to lift Starkville to a 3-2 victory.
Tupelo (6-3, 1-1 Class 5A, Division 2) walked Daniel Forde in front of Dawkins twice. Starkville (10-2, 3-0) didn''t take advantage of the first situation, but did on the second.
"When they walked (Forde) the first time, I was pretty mad and I went up with the wrong bat," Dawkins said. "It was a little bit too heavy for me, but I got it right the second time. I''m glad we won. We beat Tupelo, and I''m ecstatic."
Dawkins got the game-winning single against Mississippi State signee Chris Stratton.
Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said Stratton''s strategy of walking Forde twice came back to haunt the Golden Wave.
"They showed him the ultimate disrespect two times in a row and he came through the last time, so I was extremely proud of him," Carlisle said.
The Yellow Jackets built a 2-0 lead in the first and held it until the sixth when Tupelo tied the score.
Starkville pitcher R.J. Johnson shook off the problem and set down the Golden Wave in order to help set up Dawkins'' heroics.
Keel led off the inning with a single. Johnson walked and Forde was walked intentionally. Dawkins stepped to the plate and grounded a ball up the middle that glanced off the shortstop''s glove.
"We preached all week about body language and competitive body language, so it was really good to see that," Carlisle said. "They played with a lot of confidence."
Forde doubled and a singled to lead Starkville, while Dawkins, Keel, Chuck Tillery, and Cameron Cobb singled. Johnson surrendered four hits, had five strikeouts, three walks, and hit one batter.
Stratton struck out 10 strikeouts and walked six.
The teams meet again Friday in Tupelo.