Starkville Academy defeats Kirk Academy in baseball

Staff Writer

Starkville Academy’s bats were as frigid as the near-freezing temperatures through the first couple of innings in the Golden Triangle Spring Break Classic quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

The Volunteers went through the order once through two innings and had one hit. They had three strikeouts to go along with it.

That's when Will Miller changed things.

Miller put barrel to baseball with one out in the third inning and blasted a two-run home run over the fence in right field. Kyle Faver did the same in a six-run inning and it was all the Vols needed as they beat Kirk Academy 7-4 in six innings.

“It felt good right off the bat,” Miller said of his home run. “It was good to get everything started. I’m not a captain, but I consider myself a leader of the team so I wanted to get us a big hit.”

SA (7-2) won in spite of some errors on the defensive end.

The Vols had five of those total which put at least a damper on pitcher Garrett Lewis’ performance. The sophomore cruised through five innings without surrendering a single hit before giving one up in the sixth.

Starkville Academy coach Brooks Roberts wasn’t pleased with how the defense played, but he didn’t find much to be upset about from his hurler.

“Errors are killers,” Roberts said. “(Kirk is) a good team, but in playoff and district situations, those teams are going to capitalize on that. Other than those, Garrett Lewis threw a great game. He didn’t get a lot of help behind him, but that’s one thing we can work on.”

While Lewis’ offense was cold, he held down the fort through the first two innings striking out a couple of batters, but the Raiders actually got the first score of the night.

Two errors opened the door for a steal and when the Vols threw down the run came home to score for the 1-0 lead for Kirk. That was short-lived.

Starkville Academy started the third with Miller’s blast to right field. With two outs, Faver sent one in the same direction as he went opposite field for a two-run shot that made it a 4-1 lead quickly. The Vols got two more runs in the inning on a misplaced fly ball and a throw away that made it 6-1 going to the fourth.

“I thought we had a great approach offensively,” Roberts said. “One time through the order, we started finding barrel."

Leading 7-1 after Lewis knocked in a run in the fifth, he had a routine grounder to start the sixth that was mishandled.

That error started a three-run inning in the sixth for the Raiders, who were able to break up the no-hitter. Connor McLaughlin came in to get the final out of the inning and the game was called in the sixth for a time limit.
Lewis finished the game with 5.2 innings giving up just four hits and striking out five batters with no walks. None of the four runs he surrendered were earned thanks to those four errors.

Roberts wasn’t surprised that Lewis came out and gave the team a great start.
“I’ve seen him pitch enough that I know that he’s capable of doing that," Roberts said. "While he’s still young, he’s a lot more developed than most players his age. He’s only going to get better.”

McLaughlin earned the save with his out in the sixth.

On the offensive side of the field, the Vols pounded out 10 hits led by Faver’s 2-for-3 game with a double, home run and two RBI. Sam Clark went 2-for-2 for the night and Miller added his two RBI with a home run.
The victory has Starkville Academy where it wanted to be in the Spring Break Classic and that's playing Wednesday. The Vols have to win two games to take home the championship and they start with a semifinal matchup with Indianola Academy at 11 a.m. at Volunteer Field.

Heritage and Oak Hill will play the other semifinal round at 1 p.m. with the winners of both games playing in the championship at 3 p.m.

This will be the third meeting in the first 10 games between Indianola Academy and Starkville Academy having split the first two games. The Vols beat the Colonels on Monday 6-4 and lost to the Colonels 2-0 on March 2.