ECRU – What more could you ask of from North Pontotoc High senior Kyle Robbins?
How about two consecutive complete games in the playoffs?
Pitching on two days’ rest, the left-hander struck out 11 in a complete-game performance and drove in two runs at the plate to lead his team to a 4-2 victory over Lafayette at Zane Hale Field in the decisive Game 3 of a MHSAA Class 4A second-round playoff series.
“He threw Friday, and he hadn’t thrown on two days’ rest all year,” said Vikings coach Chad Anthony, who was sporting a bleach-blonde hairdo as part of a deal he made with his players for winning their division. “But we talked about it. We talked about starting some other guys to see if we could piece it together.
“But he came in today and said, ‘Coach, if it’s good with you, I want the ball.’ If he wants it, we’re going to give it him. We’re going to ride him as far as we can.”
So far, the Vikings rode his left arm to the MHSAA Division 1-4A regular-season crown and two wins over the Commodores to advance to the quarterfinals that begin on Friday.
The Vikings, who have gotten nine wins out of the senior, including two complete games in this series, hope to get two more against Center Hill in the quarterfinals.
“He was dialed in, especially when he got to the sixth and seventh (innings),” said Commodores coach Greg Lewis. “He was really bringing it.
“I don’t know what he was throwing, but he had to be 85-(MPH) plus around that time. “Just a good job by him.”
Robbins, who only allowed four hits Monday night, would have to tip his cap to his teammates for their defense and timely hitting.
First baseman Hayden Stegall prevented a run from being scored when he came down with Robbins’ high throw on a ground ball to the left of the mound with two outs in the top of the first.
Second baseman Caleb Mills then robbed Luke Stanley in the top of the third when he made a leaping grab of a scorched liner.
And he has designated hitter Brandon Davis to thank for providing him with what proved to be the winning runs. With a 2-2 count in the bottom of the fourth, Davis blasted a Stanley offering to left for a two-run shot, his fifth homer of the year.
After the Commodores scored in the fifth and sixth innings, Robbins seemed to become reenergized. He struck out five over the last two innings.
“He curveballed us to death that last time, after we started hitting off him. Tonight, he juiced it up a little bit,” Lewis said. “Even on 3-and-2, he tried to just throw it by us.
“He would leave it out a little bit and up, and we would chase it … a tough pitch to lay off of, especially when it is running away like that.”
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal