Starkville Academy's Alex Holtcamp has good ears and knows how to follow directions.
After Holtcamp had a tough time trying to catch up to the breaking pitches from Presbyterian Christian's Tyler Young and struck out in the third inning on Wednesday at Volunteer Field, he received a bit of advice from first base coach Casey Orr prior to his next at-bat in the fourth frame.
Orr shouted out to Holtcamp to "learn from your last at-bat" and he did just that by lining the first pitch he saw for an RBI double.
Holtcamp's hit was big at the time as it turned a 4-2 lead for Starkville Academy to 5-2 and the Vols went on to defeat the visiting Bobcats 7-3 in a rain-shortened, six-inning game.
Orr was glad to see Holtcamp take advantage of the situation.
"Alex is a great fastball hitter and has been all year," Orr said. "Teams realize that and when they see him hit fastballs, they are going to throw him off-speed pitches. The previous at-bat, he struck out on off-speed pitches in the dirt and we tell our kids all of the time to make adjustments and learn from what the pitchers are doing.
"Alex did a good job and the first fastball he saw, he liked and drove it to the opposite gap. He did a good job and he's a coachable kid. All you can ask for as a coach is for a kid to listen and do what you ask."
Holtcamp didn't want to waste any time in driving in Kirby Cox, who had reached on an error to lead off the inning.
He wasn't going to give Young a chance to get an advantage count and start throwing off-speed pitches again.
"(Orr) was talking about not chasing the curveball in the dirt," Holtcamp said. "It came clutch, drove in my buddy on base, gave us a bigger lead and helped out my pitcher Drew (Pellum). It felt good coming back from a strikeout to help my team."
Pellum worked five full innings for SA and pitched to one batter in the sixth when the heavy rains came. He had five strikeouts and scattered six hits.
The Vols came back to play well after losing a 6-5 decision at Presbyterian Christian on Tuesday night in Hattiesburg. They improved to 9-3 overall and 1-1 in South AAA.
"After we lost in the last inning, you are worried that may carry over until the next game, but Drew came out, threw strikes and put up a couple of zeros to start off," Starkville Academy coach Neal Henry said. "We were putting the ball in play and when you do that, you have confidence and everybody in the lineup is going to have confidence because they see the first two, three or four hitters get it done. Hitting is contagious."
The Vols took advantage of a pair of errors by the Bobcats to score a pair of runs in the second inning.
Presbyterian Christian came back to cut the lead to 2-1 in the third, but SA picked up two more runs in its half of the frame. Ryan Mann had an RBI single and Pellum drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
The Bobcats got single runs in the fourth and fifth, while the Vols came up with the one run in the fourth on Holtcamp's double and two in the fifth on a two-run single by Hunter Bolin.
Presbyterian Christian saw its records fall to 3-6 overall and 3-2 in the conference. The scheduled second game of the doubleheader that was wiped out due to rain will be played at a later date, possibly on an open Saturday.