By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
BALDWYN – Dustin Kirk celebrated his 17th birthday on Sunday with a dominating pitching performance to keep Baldwyn’s baseball season alive.
Kirk tossed a three-hitter to help the Bearcats edge East Union 2-1 in Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 2A semifinals at Latimer Park.
The Division 1-2A rivals have now split their four meetings this year. Something must give in Game 3 tonight at 6, with the winner earning a spot in the state championship series later this week.
“Every game we’ve played with them has been close so far,” said Kirk. “It just feels good to get this one, but we’ve still got one more. It’s do or die tomorrow.”
The freshman right-hander did not strike out a batter, but mixed his changeup and fastball together to induce soft groundouts and line drives.
Baldwyn’s defense made every routine play behind Kirk (9-1) and made no errors.
East Union pitcher Cody Bo Dillard had an excellent outing as well. He struck out nine and allowed only one earned run on a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Bishop Davis.
“It’s hard for somebody to pitch like that and get the loss,” Urchins coach Chris Basil said of Dillard (6-4). “He walked a few, but he was just overpowering.”
A two-out rally in the top of the fourth gave East Union (20-14) a temporary 1-0 lead. Tray Davis doubled down the left-field line and crossed home plate on a Tyler Hutcheson single.
The Bearcats (22-6) tied the game in the bottom half when a third-strike pitch to Corbin Scott went off the mitt of catcher Alex Boland and to the backstop. Kirk scored on the play.
“It’s been a battle for four games now between two good ball teams and two teams that want it bad,” said Baldwyn coach Shannon Smith. “We’ll see who wants it the most.”
The Urchins made a huge play in the sixth by picking off two runners on a failed squeeze bunt attempt, but Kirk set down three straight batters to end the game after a leadoff walk to start the seventh.