Meridian Star


June 27, 2014

District 3 tops District 5, 6-3, in State Games action

MERIDIAN — District 3 took advantage of two errors and a hit batsman to score four runs in the second inning en route to its 6-3 win over District 5 in opening round baseball action at the State Games of Mississippi Thursday.  

"District 3 has traditionally been weak," District 3 coach Keith Fagan said. "But we came here with a really good ball club. They play good together. I did tell them that I want to see a little more productivity at the plate. We swung at some bad pitches, but we played good defense."

Darius Wright tossed seven strong innings, allowing just five hits and zero earned for the win.

"He gave us a good outing on the mound and that was key," Fagan said. "He was able to locate his two-seam fastball, but struggled with his changeup, and that got his pitch count up a little bit. But to only give up five hits in the State Games of Mississippi where you have 144 of the best players in the state, that's big."

District 5, a team comprised of local high school stars, will now have to battle its way back from the loser's bracket.

"Our guys coming into this thing were really pumped up," District 5 coach Kent Lewis said. "Every single one of them have stepped up into a leadership role, and they want to win it."

In the fifth inning, District 3 designated hitter Zac Carter provided the big blow, launching a solo home run that carried well over the 325-foot wall in right field."

"Zac has actually been in the hospital the last week-and-a-half with a viral infection to his throat," Fagan said. "He's usually our starting first baseman, but we chose to put him as the (designated hitter) and to try to keep his legs fresh. But he can turn on some pitches for sure."

Added Carter, "That felt pretty good. I wasn't expecting that at all. It was a fastball, and that's what I was looking for, and I was able to put a good swing on it."

For District 5, Reed Michel, a senior at West Lauderdale High School, tossed five innings in relief, striking out 9 batters, including the side in the fourth, and allowed just a single run — Carter's home run.

"He did great," Lewis said. "When you are able to throw a (left handed pitcher) out there who knows what he's doing, that's tough on hitters, and this kid knows what he's doing. I expect a lot of great things from him."

Added Michel, "This is an honor to be chosen to be on this squad. There were about 60 kids who tried out, and to be one of the 18 selected is a big deal to me."

Michel managed to induce multiple swings-and-misses off of his devastating curveball.

"It's really more effective against left handed batters," Michel said. "It breaks away from them and gives them some trouble.

Added Carter, "As a left hander, the curveball looks it's coming right at you and then it breaks all the way across the plate."

District 3 advances to the winner's bracket of the tournament and will face District 2 today at 5:30 p.m.

"Getting the opening-game win is key," Fagan said. "It's good to get the first one out of the gate. We can play a little more free, and hopefully tack on another win tomorrow."

District 5 will square off against District 6 today at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination contest.

"Their demeanor is still good,"Lewis said. "We have some good arms, and they're ready to go. I expect the kids to come out with the same level of intensity. I expect them to compete."

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