By Sarah Moomaw
MERIDIAN — Just a month after the high school baseball championships wrapped up, coaches from across the state put together All-Star rosters to declare a "best district" at the State Games.
With the state divided into eight regions, District 5 pulled players from around the Meridian area – Class 4A state runner up Newton County, West Lauderdale, Taylorsville, West Jones, North Jones, Southeast Lauderdale, Seminary and Stringer – and routed Division 3, 11-0, in the opening game on Thursday at Meridian Community College's Scaggs Field.
"Pretty good job by the pitchers, we got some big hits," D-5 coach Matt Boone said. "It's fun coaching all these guys."
Playing as the visitors, D-5 piled on the runs in the middle innings to induce the run differential rule – 12 after four innings or 10 after five – and mixed it with objective pitching to seal the victory.
D-5 batted through the line-up in the third inning to pile on five runs. With 2 outs, Jaylon Keys smacked a 3-run homer to left field to highlight the attack and put D-5 up, 7-0.
"That was a big knock, he has lightning hands. His hands are great," Boone said.
With a comfortable lead entering the fourth, Boone pulled most of his starters to get everyone involved.
"These guys are all good players, you want to try and get them all in the game the first couple games," Boone said.
Brody Bray stayed in the game, earning a base when he was beaned by Hunter Acy. Two walks loaded the bases for Wes McDonnieal, who smacked a 2-run single, but D-3 turned the force at third base for the second out.
Austin Moffet reached on a fielder's choice and scored on Joseph Gateley's single, to end the inning with a double digit lead, 11-0.
On the mound, Will Stokes breezed through three innings of work, with 1-2-3 innings in the first and third. He finished the day with six strikeouts and allowing one hit to earn the shutout.
"Stokes, man, he's good," Boone said. "He's hard to run on when someone gets on base. He did exactly what we wanted, three innings, low pitch count, so he can come back in the weekend and pitch some more. He did a good job."
Oppositely, things fell apart early for D-3. In the second inning, Josh Carpenter and the defense committed four errors which led to a quick 3-0 D-5 lead to begin the assault.
A lead-off single by D-3's Powell McCaleb in the bottom of the fourth was no threat as Peyton Lott retired the next three batters, before a scoreless fifth inning on both sides to end the game.
The double elimination tournament means both teams will play on, but with D-3 skating a fine line. D-5 will meet up with D-8 on Friday at 3 p.m. D-8 topped D-2 6-3.
District 5 def. District 3, 11-0
District 8 def. District 2, 6-3
District 7 def. District 4, 12-3
District 6 def. District 1, 7-3
10 a.m. - District 3 vs. District 2
12:30 p.m. - District 4 vs. District 1
3 p.m. - District 5 vs. District 8
5:30 p.m. - District 7 vs. District 6