April 8, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Senior Night is usually reserved for the final regular season home game.
However, the Starkville High School baseball team decided to recognize its senior class Tuesday against Columbus in its second-to-last home game.
That was just fine with Starkville starting pitcher Colin Olsen, who pitched a complete-game five-hitter to help beat the Falcons 9-4.
"I probably didn''t have my best stuff, but I was not going to lose on Senior Night," said Olsen, one of Starkville''s 11 seniors. "We all had that in our minds."
It appeared Columbus had Olsen on the ropes in the sixth inning when it cut its deficit to 6-4 and had the tying runs on base with two outs.
But Olsen got a groundout and a pop up to get out of the jam, and then he retired the side in order, earning his sixth strikeout, in the seventh.
"I thought Colin got stronger as the game went on," Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said. "He battled back and pitched through the seventh. That was good."
Starkville (16-5, 5-2 Class 5A-Division 2) remained in a two-team tie for the division lead with Tupelo, which beat South Panola 1-0 on Tuesday. Starkville plays host to Tupelo on Thursday.
Carlisle knew the importance of the Yellow Jackets getting a win against Columbus (8-11, 0-7).
"We had to have this ballgame," Carlisle said. "We could not afford to let this one get away from us."
Starkville opened the scoring with a two runs in the first as Chuck Tillery doubled and scored on a single by Jayson Keel, who scored on a wild pitch.
After the Falcons cut their deficit in half in the second, the Yellow Jackets scored two more runs in their half of the second to make it 4-1.
A solo home run by Dylan Anderson in the third and an RBI single by Stefan Hairston in the fourth helped Columbus get back to within 4-3.
Starkville scored five runs in the final two innings to expand the lead.
"We were in the game until that last inning," Columbus coach Jeff Cook said. "We got in a position to play and we just didn''t make the plays. Three of their first four runs were unearned."
Cook credited the effort of starting pitcher Nick Durrah, a sophomore, who threw into the fifth.
Players like Durrah give Cook hope for a better future with the Falcons, who play South Panola on Thursday.
"We start three seniors, but we still have six underclassmen and will have two quality pitchers back next year," Cook said. "We lose Dylan Anderson, Billy (Autrey) and Austin Stovall, who all three have pitched a lot this year."
Durrah had a double for one of five hits for Columbus, along with Anderson''s homer, and one single each by Autrey, Hairston, and Tyler Mason.
Bryan Koenig had two doubles, Daniel Forde and R.J. Johnson each had two singles, Tillery had a double, and Blake Dawkins, Nick Brooks, and Keel each singled for Starkville.