SHS senior pitcher gets job done
Blake Harrell works on the mound for the Yellowjackets Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Starkville High School senior pitcher Blake Harrell struck out the last batter of the game.
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That's exactly what coach Danny Carlisle has been wanting.
During a season when the Yellowjackets have struggled with their control at times on the mound, Harrell buckled down at the crucial points of Saturday's 10-4 victory against the Calhoun City Wildcats.
"It was a good day," Carlisle said. "We played some different guys and saw what we could do with them. Some of them came through in good spots."
One of those was Harrell, who only gave up one run on two hits in the four innings he worked and struck out five.
After walking the first two batters he faced in the fourth inning, Harrell gave up a run before striking out Calhoun City's Brandon Glover. He added two more strikeouts in the fifth frame, then one each in the sixth and seventh.
"He threw strikes at the end," Carlisle said. "The first two (innings) he threw it was all over the place and he was like one batter coming out of there.
"With runners on at first and second, you don't need to be walking folks. I went out there and told him that it's pivotal for you to get this guy. He's got to know to come in and throw strikes."
Harrell, a transfer from Hebron Christian School, understood his early struggles so he took the instructions from Carlisle to heart and was determined to get the job done.
"I was trying to find my zone, but I haven't pitched that much so I was trying to get back in the groove of pitching," Harrell said. "I was just trying to do it for my team. I wanted to throw strikes and get outs when we needed them."
The Starkville offense made a winner out of Harrell by scoring four runs on four hits in the fourth inning.
Nathan Pugh drove in a run with an infield single and Jordan Allgood had a two-run single to help put the Jackets up 7-4.
Pugh had two more RBI in the fifth inning with a single to expand the margin to 9-4.
Starkville added the final tally in the sixth when Allgood crossed the plate on a ground ball out by Garrett Smith.
The Jackets began the scoring in the first inning when Pugh singled and scored on a single by Hayden Higginbotham.
In the second frame, Starkville added a pair of runs to increase its lead to 3-0. Jaquez Johnson walked, went to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Maurico Clark. Clark came home when the Jackets executed a double steal as Smith took second base.
Calhoun City benefitted from two SHS errors in the third and had three hits to tie the game. The Wildcats added a run in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead.
Carlisle was happy to see his squad rally, especially after a tough 4-0 loss to Tupelo Friday night.
"I'm just proud to get a win," Carlisle said. "We've been playing them close. We played Tupelo close and it was 1-0 going into the sixth."
Higginbotham had two singles and a double, while Pugh had three singles to pace the 13-hit attack for the Jackets. Smith had a single and a double, and Allgood, Wesley Montgomery, Daniel Murphree and Maurico Clark had one single each.
Harrell, who also had a bunt single offensively to go along with his pitching, was glad to be able to contribute.
"This was a game that boosts our confidence," Harrell said. "I just tried to go out there, do my best and throw strikes.
"We needed a win bad because we're getting back into division play."
Starkville, which improved to 5-8 overall, returns to Class 6A, Region 2 play at South Panola Tuesday.