In the first district game of the 2011 season, Columbus High School went into a rivals environment and won with underclassmen.
A complete game on the mound by sophomore Christian Dale and hits by three freshman infielders paced the 8-2 victory at Yellowjacket Field Tuesday night.
"They see how good they can be and we're now starting to get classes come in that have finally played a lot of baseball," Columbus High School head coach Jeffrey Cook said.
Dale allowed two runs on six hits in a 97-pitch effort by Dale handled the Starkville bats all game long. it's the second complete game of the season for Dale, a 6-foot-tall right-hander, after tossing a three-hit shutout against Hamilton on Feb. 26.
"He's been doing that for us all season and when we send him out there, our guys know he'll compete," Cook said. "That gives our guys the confidence they need too."
Dale's 10 strikeouts Tuesday night were a career-high that included him sitting down the Yellowjackets in order with punch outs in just a 17-pitch fifth inning. Dale finished the game by doing his required running after the team celebration.
"We need him to get his workout in because we may need him to close out the next game this week," Cook said.
Falcons senior right fielder Nick Durrah got Columbus (7-4) on the scoreboard by taking a 0-2 fastball from Starkville pitcher Nathan Pugh deep over the left field scoreboard giving the visitors an early two-run lead.
"That was a mistake absolutely because in that count, that ball has to be in the dirt not right down the plate," Starkville head coach Danny Carlisle said. "However, I'll also take some blame there because we knew he could hit and I probably should've walked him."
After giving up the rocket into the trees in left field, Pugh settled down and gave the Yellowjackets (3-4) five solid innings of work that included only those pair of runs and six strikeouts in 81 pitches.
"I thought Nathan did a really good job pitching tonight and kept us in the ballgame," Carlisle said. "He threw strikes and the only reason we pulled him was his calf tightened up really bad in his final inning."
Starkville was able to plate runs in the third and fourth innings to tie the score off RBI-singles from Jordan Allgood and Garrett Batson. Columbus' first error of the game led to the game being tied at 2 after freshman third baseman Greg Sykes fell trying to field a bunt by Starkville's Wesley Montgomery.
"In previous years, that play right there would've killed us and our guys didn't let that snowball like young kids normally do," Cook said.
Columbus rebounded with six runs off Montgomery in the sixth inning, which included RBIs from Sykes, Dale, Chris McCullough and Trace Lee to seal the victory.
"We've simply got to get tougher out there mentally and physically before we're going to win anymore games," Carlisle said. "We had enough plays that we simply, simply just didn't make tonight and for whatever reason, we weren't ready to play."
These same two teams will tangle again Friday night at Columbus for a 6 p.m. first pitch.