Starkville 9-year-olds claim second at South State

Starkville's 9-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars
Staff Writer

A team can respond in a negative way to losing a lead.

That wasn't the case for the Starkville 9-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars on Sunday afternoon at Ivy Park.

After having a 5-1 lead going into the sixth and final inning, Starkville saw Morton come back to tie the game 5-5.

Morton stranded the winning run in scoring position, which gave Starkville another chance in extra innings.

Starkville took advantage of that opportunity.

With three runs in the seventh on an inside-the-park home run by Quintin Baker, Starkville was able to defeat Morton 8-6 and capture second place at the South State Tournament. That also secured Starkville's spot in the Overall State Tournament today, which will also be held in Louisville.

Early in the game, it was a pitching duel, but Starkville's offense eventually began producing.

"The pitching in the first three innings with our boy and their boy were both a no-hitters so it was a pitching battle from the very beginning, then we just came back hitting after that," Starkville coach Brantley Johnson said.

Starkville scored three runs in the fourth with a double by Christian Riekhof being a big blow. It added two more runs in the fifth to stretch the lead to 5-1.

After Morton got four runs to tie the outing in the sixth, Starkville went up for good in the seventh. Joseph Portera and Micah Buckner each walked, then Baker hit a baseball down the left field line that was misplayed by the Morton outfielder. Portera and Buckner scored ahead of Baker, who rounded the bases for the home run.

Baker had a single to go along with his homer for Starkville, while Riekhof's double was the only other extra base hit. Jace Yates had a pair of singles.

Starkville used six pitchers in the game Jack Johnson started and was followed to the mound by Buckner, Alex Edelblute, Andrew Jenkins, Riekhof and Will Akers.

With second place already clinched, Starkville decided to concede the championship game with Louisville so it could set its pitching for the Overall State. 

After Louisville had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Starkville conceded the game at that point.

"We conceded so we could have our pitching for (today)," coach Johnson said. "That's what our whole process was."

Starkville will take on Clarksdale in the first game Monday at 5 p.m.