The Meridian Star
The Meridian Spikes closed out their Deep South Collegiate League home slate with a 4-1 win over the Jackson Gems, but at a home-away from home, playing their final home game at East Central Community College instead of Southeast Lauderdale on Tuesday.
"I think we did about everything right tonight," Meridian coach Colton MItchell said after the win. "It was a quick game, got some big hits ... good pitching."
The victory was the second in back-to-back nights and sends the Spikes into their season finale at Jackson on a high note.
"We started slow [this season] and kind of picked it up," Mitchell said. "Now, we're playing the best we've played this summer, hopefully we can come away with one more win."
Rainouts plagued the beginning of the season, and Meridian took a hard hit on washout games. Jackson Gem's coach David Brown said Meridian's sharp pitching, rather than their offense benefited from the
abbreviated scheduled, which was on display Tuesday night.
"When you have rains outs and open dates, things like that, it makes hard keep the timing as a hitter, so pitchers keep the advantage like that," Brown said.
Meridian consolidated all of its offense into one inning — a four-run fifth — but the pitching combination on the mound held the Gems off for the win.
"I think everyone threw good," Mitchell said. "I think that's the best [Jonathan] Porter has thrown all summer."
Meridian starter Jonathan Porter made quick work in his five innings, retiring the side in the first, second and third innings.
"I'd kind of struggled this summer, so it felt good to go out there and actually have a good game," Porter said. "It was a success now and that's a good way to end the summer for me."
The fourth added some dramatics as the Gems broke the scoreless game open with a two-out RBI single by James Anderson.
After allowing two hits in the inning, Porter returned to the mound regrouped to retire the next three batters. He finished the game with with one run allowed on two hits and three strikeouts.
The Spikes rallied and earned Porter the win by putting up four runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Gem's starter Michael Wilson threw four strong innings — no runs on two hits — only to have reliever Dalton Smith lose control of the strike zone, hitting the leadoff batter before giving up two hits and a walk to four of first five batters he saw.
With the bases loaded, Xavier Franklin roped a three-run double down the left field line to clear the bases. Franklin came around to score on a passed ball after stealing third for Meridian's fourth run.
Both bullpens settled down to close out the game, completing nine innings exactly two hours after the first pitch. For the second night in a row, Meridian relied on Witt Haggard for the final outs, retiring the six batters he saw.
"With the lead, I knew I had to go out there and throw strikes and just get the job done," Haggard said. "Knowing I can go back-to-back days on a consistent basis is a good thing.”