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It took something that Nathan Pugh had never done before for the Starkville Yellowjackets to get a division win Tuesday night.
Pugh hit a double to score Max Bartlett from first base in the eighth inning as Starkville defeated the Neshoba Central Rockets 3-2 at home.
It was the first time Pugh had ended the game with a walk-off hit.
"I was looking for a fastball I could smash and that's what I got," Pugh said. "I hit it as hard as I could.
"We wanted to end it and it feels great. That's all I can really say about it."
Pugh hit the pitch from Austin Harrison of the Rockets into the left field corner and Jacket coach Danny Carlisle was sending Max Bartlett all of the way around to score.
After Bartlett hit home plate safely, it touched off a huge celebration.
Starkville improved its records to 10-3 overall and 3-0 in Class 5A, Region 3, District 4.
The result brought to a conclusion a great pitching duel between Nick Brooks of the Jackets and Harrison of the Rockets.
Brooks worked all eight innings for SHS and threw 117 pitches in getting the win. He struck out five, scattered seven hits and walked five.
"He pitched an excellent game and competed the whole time," Pugh said of his teammate. "Everybody on the field and everybody in the dugout stayed in it the whole time."
The Jackets had to get out of a sticky situation in the top of the eighth to even have an opportunity to win it in their half of the frame.
Carlisle had a message for Brooks before he took the mound in the eighth inning.
"We told Nick you stick it right here and we'll win it for you in the bottom," Carlisle said.
Brooks allowed a leadoff single to his counterpart Harrison, then there was a walk and an error, but a tag at the plate by Harper Day to get the second out of the inning may have been the play of the game for Starkville.
"Harper Day made a great play at home after we booted it out there," Carlisle said. "It was a run-saving play and got us out of the inning. Baseball has a way of giving and taking."
Neshoba Central jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single by Josh Gaines, then extended the margin with another run in the fifth on a perfectly placed bunt by Caleb Crenshaw that allowed Tanner Wells to score.
The Jackets tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth.
After Victor Johnson was hit by a pitch, he stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gaines. Johnson scored on another error that allowed Day to reach base.
Jalen Campbell, who was the courtesy runner for Day, went to third base on a single by Bartlett and came home on the back end of a double steal.
Pugh was just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle with his double, a single and a triple. Bartlett and Tanner Clanton had one single each for the only other two hits for Starkville.
The Jackets travel to play the Rockets in Philadelphia on Friday.View more articles in: