Meridian Star


June 1, 2014

1-3A South All-Stars grab dramatic win

JACKSON —     Mason Irby watched the ball drift toward the North Team’s catcher as he was blazing full speed ahead to home plate.

    The stakes were high Saturday evening in the D.M. Howie Mississippi High School Classes 1-3A All-Star game at Smith-Wills Stadium. If the recent Southeast Lauderdale High School graduate scored, his team would cap off an impressive come-from-behind win. If he was tagged out, the team still had two more outs to spare, but Irby wanted to win it for the South.

    The South trailed the North 8-7 entering the bottom of ninth inning but had managed to load the bases. Irby, who reached earlier by getting hit by a pitch, represented the winning run at second. And when Bogue Chitto High School’s Brock Roberts hit a single and scored the runner ahead of Irby, the South coach waved Irby around as well, hoping to end the game in a walk-off.

    And the North catcher was unable to catch the throw from left field as Irby scored the winning run to cap off a 9-8 South victory.

    “I had no idea (if I would score),” Irby said afterward. “There was no outs, and Coach was waving me. I was going, and I saw the ball bounce over to home, and I was hoping he wasn’t going to catch it, and he didn’t.”

    After the South team piled onto Irby following his safely reaching home, Irby said he was grateful for the opportunity to help the South pull through.

    “It was a great feeling,” he said. “When I got on, I realized I could be the winning run. Winning it for the South team feels really good.”

    The South trailed 4-1 at one point, with the game going back and forth before the North led 8-7 heading into the top of the ninth. Clarkdale High School’s Levi Wedgeworth pitched the ninth inning for the South, striking out three batters and hitting one batter to keep the South within striking distance. The South Team’s walk off in the ninth made Wedgeworth the winning pitcher.

    “It feels pretty good just coming in and being able to get it,” Wedgeworth said.

    Wedgeworth admitted, though, he didn’t think Irby would make it home on the wild play.

    “I thought he was toast,” Wedgeworth said. “But the catcher dropped the ball and he slid right in.”

    Irby caught Wedgeworth in the ninth inning and said he was impressed with the Clarkdale graduate’s ability to get three outs via the punch out.

    “The main thing is, he was throwing strikes and locating,” Irby said. “Even with it being a high school All-Star game, they still have to hit it. Just not giving them stuff (to hit), that was the best thing.”

    The South led 1-0 through two before the North scored four runs in the top of the third inning. The South tied it up with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-4 and took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.

    But the top of the eighth put the North back in front, as it scored four more runs to take an 8-5 lead.

    Union High School’s Will Kennedy helped the South chip away at the lead. After reaching on a single, he later scored from third when the North tried to gun down a South runner stealing second. The runner was safe, and another run would score that inning to make it 8-7 North.

    “It felt good,” Kennedy said afterward. “It felt like I contributed to the game.”

    Irby and Wedgeworth both worked walks in the game.

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