The Yellow Jackets pounded out 14 hits — 13 singles — to beat Harrison Central 9-5 in Mississippi high school baseball Tuesday.
The win continues St. Martin’s turnaround after going 6-21 last year and losing all 10 region games. The Yellow Jackets’ 11-3 start gives them more wins in any season since 2012 when they went 18-12. And, this year, St. Martin is only halfway through the season.
“When I first got here, I saw a lot of young players and older players who had potential,” said coach Kary Bridges, who is in his first year at the helm of the Yellow Jackets. “However, they didn’t have much confidence. Each win we get just adds to the growing confidence we have.”
Confidence builds resiliency and the Yellow Jackets’ resiliency was in full show in the fourth inning. St. Martin (10-3, 2-1) came into the inning with a solid 4-0 lead. However, Brendan Hardy’s RBI double capped a three-run Red Rebels fourth to pull Harrison Central to within one, 4-3.
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The Yellow Jackets responded in the bottom of the fourth, putting together five hits to take advantage of three Red Rebels errors and put five runs across the plate to go up 9-3. Leif Moore capped the inning with the Yellow Jackets’ only extrabase hit — a two-out double to center — but was thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple.
“That was a really big inning,” Bridges said. “They had the momentum. Not only did we respond, but we came out of the inning with a larger lead than we had going into the inning. Good teams are able to answer (when opponents score).”
St. Martin took the early lead with Isaac Williams, Cameron Locke and R.J. Fletcher starting the game with consecutive singles. Moore had the big hit in the inning, driving a two-run, two-out single to stake the Yellow Jackets to a 4-0 lead. Five of the Yellow Jackets nine runs would come with two outs.
Moore would scatter five runs, three earned, on seven hits, two walks, and two hit batsmen against nine strikeouts to pick up the win. He gave up a Gage Gajewski solo homerun in the fifth inning and doubles to Cody Palmer and Hardy in the sixth inning to allow the Red Rebels to score their last two runs.
“He pitched well with the lead,” Bridges said. “He challenged their hitters and that was big.”
Williams and Locke, the Yellow Jackets leadoff and second-hole hitters, set the table for St. Martin with three hits each. Fletcher finished with two hits and two RBIs. The St. Martin catcher also threw out three Harrison Central runners at second. In addition to picking up the win on the mound, Moore also had two hits and three RBIs to support his cause.
Hardy paced the Red Rebels with two doubles and two RBIs. Palmer also added two hits for Harrison Central.