Jackets fall 13-3 in baseball to Cougars

Staff Writer

It was a pretty good first three innings Friday for the Starkville Yellowjackets during their Class 6A, Region 3 baseball game against the Northwest Rankin Cougars.

However, the fourth and fifth frames were not kind to the Jackets.

Northwest Rankin scored five runs in the fourth and exploded for eight more in the fifth and defeated Starkville 13-3 in five innings at Yellowjacket Field/Carlisle Stadium.

The outing was going well for SHS when it scored one run in the second and one run in the third to take a 2-0 lead, but the Jackets left the bases loaded in the third to prevent the situation from becoming even better for the home team.

"You can say the game was won and lost in bottom of third and top of the fourth," SHS baseball coach Travis Garner said. "We had chances to score or add to it in the bottom of first and bottom of second. We leave bases loaded in bottom of the third. If we get a base hit with a ball in the gap right there, it's a totally different ball game."

The Jackets scored a run in the second when Josh Arnett reached second base on an error and Caleb Stewart delivered an RBI single to plate Arnett.

In the third inning, Carter Bentley walked and scored on a base hit by Dee Petty to extend the advantage for SHS to 2-0. Jackson Owen had the first of his two singles in the game and KJ Lawrence walked to load the bases, but that's when the offense stalled for the Jackets.

"We just are not swinging as well as we want to right now," SHS senior Carter Hunt said. "It was a tough game and tough day."

The Cougars got their bats going off Jacket pitcher Austin Campbell when Nik Hogan launched a solo home run over the right field wall.

That started a five-run inning for Northwest Rankin and Starkville had a difficult time stopping the momentum of the visitors once it started.

Garner said the Jackets should have refocused after the Hogan homer.

"We've got to keep playing from there," Garner said. "That's one of the better teams in the state. We played tough with them for three innings, but we've got to figure out how to play all seven."

The Cougars put the game away with eight more runs in the fifth and even though SHS scratched out a run in the fifth when Jack Perry was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Owen, it was not enough to make up the huge deficit.

Owen was the only multiple hitter for the Jackets with his two singles and there were no extra base hits. Bentley, Petty, Hunt and Stewart had one single each.

Starkville, which fell to 9-9 overall and 0-4 in the division, will be on the road today to take on New Hope and again on Monday at Houston.

Hunt knows it has been a rough stretch for the Jackets, but said they just have to keep pushing forward.

"You've got to flush the day, go on to the next one the best you can, get to playoffs and make a run in the playoffs," Hunt said. "That's what we'll try to do."