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New Hope, Columbus beat Caledonia in baseball


Adam Minichino



Dillon Hawkins and Austin Stovall gave their baseball teams exactly what they needed Saturday. 


Unfortunately, Caledonia High School was on the receiving ends of both efforts. 


In the afternoon, Hawkins threw a six-inning, one-hitter, and Philip Tice had three hits and two RBIs in New Hope''s 11-1 victory against Caledonia in a Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 game at Trojan Field. 


In the evening, Stovall survived a 12-hit attack and pitched a complete game to lead Columbus to a 13-7 victory. 


Stovall earned his first complete game of the season in a bounce-back role. On Friday night, the senior didn''t slide and was thrown out at home for the final out in Tupelo''s 2-1 victory. 


Columbus coach Jeffrey Cook said Stovall worked hard to put that game behind him and gave the pitching-depleted Falcons (8-10), who were without senior first baseman Billy Autrey, a lift. 


"I thought Austin Stovall did a super job," Cook said. "We played really well last night against a really good team. I thought our guys played well and were aggressive. We put the ball in play and put pressure on them. Our guys are getting better. We''re real close. I keep telling our guys we''re so close. What we did last night and tonight was when we made that one mistake we made the play on the next play." 


Tyji Hawkins delivered a fine outing for Columbus against Tupelo. But without Autrey and with center fielder/pitcher Dylan Anderson''s back hurting him, Cook said the Falcons didn''t have many pitching options. He said Stefan Hairston was ready to relieve Stovall, but he said Stovall wanted to finish what he started. 


"I thought he did an outstanding job throwing strikes," Cook said. "He might not be the hardest thrower, but he is going to throw strikes. He did a super job." 


Caledonia (4-13) touched Stovall for four runs in the top of the third inning to open the scoring. With one out, Tyler Pounders (home run, two RBIs) walked, stole second, and scored on a single by Sy Hunter. Hunter scored on an error, and with two outs Richard Keene singled home Cory Critcher and Curry Freeman. 


But Columbus answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Durrah''s two-run home run gave the Falcons the confidence they needed, according to Cook, to build an attack against the left-handed Freeman. 


Columbus added five runs in the fourth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach. 


Dylan Anderson had a triple and an RBI, Josh Tentoni had a single and an RBI, Hairston had three hits, including a double, and Tyler Mason had a single and two RBIs to back Stovall. 


Hunter, Critcher, Keene, and Zach Senneff had two hits, while Freeman doubled and Montana Jacobs had a single and an RBI for Caledonia. 


In the first game of the day, Hawkins (3-2) showed no ill effects from offseason Tommy John surgery. The surgery, known by doctors as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (or UCL), is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. 


The sophomore right-hander gave up a leadoff single to Pounders but allowed just one other baserunner. Critcher reached on an error, took third on an infield out, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Keene. 


Hawkins struck out seven and walked none in a 94-pitch outing that helped New Hope improve to 15-8. 


"My fastball was on, my curveball was on, and my changeup was all right," Hawkins said. "I could have done better. I could have spotted up and kept the ball low. I should have had more strikeouts." 


New Hope coach Stacy Hester didn''t think Hawkins would contribute much after he heard he needed the surgery. But he said Hawkins worked hard in his rehabilitation and returned faster than expected. 


By early this year, he said Hawkins was ready to pitch and has done a solid job as the Trojans'' No. 2 pitcher behind Blake Roberts. 


"Dylan pitched one of his better games, if not the best game all year," Hester said. "He is the one who is amazing. Everything he did with his surgery and his rehab went super well. He kept progressing (in his rehab) and they kept saying you have done well in this one, this one, this one. It really is amazing he is doing what he is doing. It has been a nice surprise." 


Hawkins said he is 100 percent after going through several months of rehabilitation that he hated. He said he re-started his throwing program in September. He then moved into the bullpen in November and was ready to pitch early in 2009. 


"I didn''t even know if I was going to be able to pitch this season because they say it takes a year to recover from it," Hawkins said. "I strived to beat that and now I am back."  


New Hope capitalized on two errors in a five-run third to break the game open. The Trojans also benefited from a bunt single by Josh Ferguson in which the Confederates were late covering first base and a bloop single by Will McReynolds that fell in front of the left fielder. Hilton Gibson''s two-run double was the big hit in the inning against Pounders, who started and took the loss. 


New Hope used three hits and three walks in a six-run sixth to force the mercy rule. 


Jake Smith had two hits and Davis Lee doubled for the Trojans. 


Caledonia, which beat Noxubee County 11-1 on Friday, plays West Lauderdale on Tuesday. 


Columbus plays at Starkville, while New Hope travels to Noxubee County. 



Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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