By DANNY P. SMITH
The Starkville Yellowjackets dug themselves a hole on two fronts Tuesday night.
In falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning, the Jackets weren't pleased with their start against the Tupelo Golden Wave.
Starkville eventually lost an 8-5 decision to Tupelo at Yellowjacket Field and fell to 0-3 in Class 6A, Division 2.
The fact that the Jackets came close to defeating one of the best teams in the state just wasn't good enough for coach Danny Carlisle.
"Somewhere we've got to decide to quit playing close and win them," Carlisle said. "We had the bases loaded twice and once with one out and didn't get anything. You need to put pressure on people.
"It's 5-3 (in the fifth inning) and the bases are loaded. If we get a little hit there, make some noise, it gets interesting. Their guy comes in and shuts us down."
Trailing 5-2 in the fifth, Starkville was able to load the bases on three straight singles by Nathan Pugh, Blake Dawkins and Hayden Higginbotham.
After Golden Wave starting pitcher J.D. Roberts got a strikeout, he walked Jordan Allgood to force a run across the plate, then Tupelo went to closer Ben Aldridge who got two strikeouts to end the threat. In fact, Aldridge struck out the first five batters he faced and had seven total.
Tupelo added a run to its lead in the fifth when William Goss singled and scored, then the Golden Wave padded their advantage with two more runs in the seventh frame.
That turned out to be big as the Jackets benefitted from a throwing error to score a pair of runs to establish the final score.
Tupelo head coach Gary Ennis knew that getting a victory in Starkville wouldn't be easy,
"Tupelo and Starkville is always a big rivalry," Ennis said. "You can throw records out and they are going to play tough. We're just proud of our guys showing up offensively, but we're a little disappointed defensively."
The Golden Wave, who improved to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the division, jumped on SHS starter Pugh for four runs on four hits in the first inning. The big blow was a two-run double by Connor Carothers.
"You go back and look at that," Carlisle said of the first inning. "We miss-play one and it goes down as a double, but it should be caught, then you have a couple of walks, there's an error and they score.
"Nate worked from behind instead of working ahead and that hurt us. When you do that, you run your pitch count up and your defense is on its heels."
Even with the poor start, the Jackets came back with a pair of runs in the first, both coming home on an error by Tupelo first baseman Cody Shrewsbury.
Carothers was at it again in the third inning with a solo home run to increase the advantage for the Golden Wave to 5-2.
Despite never getting the lead in the game, Carlisle believes Starkville will find success in the division. The Jackets get their next chance Friday at Tupelo.
"We come back, cut (Tupelo's lead) in half and we had an opportunity to be tied with them," Carlisle said. "We feel like we're going to win some division games somewhere down the road. We've come close three times."
Blake Dawkins had three of the five hits for Starkville, which dropped to 4-7 overall.
In the pitching department, Wesley Montgomery entered the game in relief of Pugh with two outs in the third inning and retired seven of the next eight batters. Montgomery ran into trouble in the sixth inning and Daniel Murphree came into the game to finish it up. Pugh and Murphree had one strikeout each.