BY JOHN WILBERT
TUPELO – The Tupelo High baseball team did not have a flair for the dramatic this time out against Starkville.
Unless you count Collin Dexter’s bases-loaded, walk-off hit over the third baseman’s head that scored Kyle Graham in the fifth inning.
That run ended Friday night’s game against the Yellowjackets early, as Tupelo beat visiting Starkville 10-0 in a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game at Golden Wave Field.
Tupelo (7-3, 2-1 Division 2-5A) suffered its first division loss three days earlier when Starkville got the best of Tupelo, 3-2, on a bases-loaded RBI single by Blake Dawkins in the bottom of the seventh.
Meanwhile, Friday’s loss was the first division defeat for the Yellowjackets (11-3 overall, 3-1 Division 2-5A).
“Just a big win for our program right now in the season,” said Tupelo head coach Gary Enis. “Just real proud of our guys for the way they came out and battled and competed, and got the job done.
“In particular our hitters and (Lex) Rutledge – the way he competed and the way our hitters really competed and got on base.”
Tupelo scored two runs in the bottom of the second and, early on, that seemed to be all the Wave needed to beat Starkville on Friday.
After all, Rutledge, Tupelo’s left-handed senior pitcher, was mowing down the Starkville hitters. The Samford signee struck out five hitters and only allowed one base runner in three innings.
However, in Starkville head coach Danny Carlisle’s opinion, Rutledge wasn’t at his best. Carlisle said when his hitters were up in the count they failed on a couple of occasions to take advantage of a hitter’s pitch.
“We let Lex off the hook a time or two,” Carlisle said. “I’ve seen him better. He made us look bad and we made him look good. That’s the bottom line: We made him look good tonight.
“But he stepped up to the challenge tonight.”
The Tupelo offense made it easy for Rutledge (2-0) to coast to his second victory. And it was Rutledge who started the scoring for the Wave with an opposite-field solo home run to left to lead off the second.
Jacob McGregor would score the Wave’s second run that inning on John Gatlin’s RBI single up the middle.
Huge fourth inning
The floodgates opened up for Tupelo in the bottom of the fourth, as the Wave sent 11 hitters to the plate, recorded six hits and scored seven runs.
Starkville starting pitcher Colin Olsen didn’t record an out in the fourth and was lifted with the bases loaded. Zach Schurch came on in relief and surrendered two hits and a walk before getting out of the inning.
Olsen (5-2) was responsible for eight of Tupelo’s runs. He allowed eight hits and two walks.
McGregor, on the other hand, only allowed two hits and one walk in five innings. He struck out nine as his fastball was in the 88- to 90-miles per hour range, according to a professional scout’s radar gun.
“Just an excellent performance from him,” Enis said. “We really needed this. Our team really needed this win.
“We’re really proud of the way he competed.”
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