Meridian Star

Sports

March 30, 2014

Stokes fights through handicaps to lead West over Newton Co.

DECATUR — Pneumonia and an injured foot didn’t seem to faze Will Stokes at all Saturday afternoon.

The West Lauderdale High School starter pitched seven innings of one-run ball to get the win as his team topped Newton County High School, 6-1, to remain undefeated.

“You just have to battle through it,” said Stokes, who gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out eight. “It’s just one of those things you have to deal with playing baseball.”

The lone run Stokes surrendered came on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the third, allowing Newton County’s Jacob Edwards to score.

“It was a brilliant performance,” West head coach Jerry Boatner said. “We just need to get him well and get him 100 percent. He’s been feeling bad for several weeks, and he just can’t shake it.”

The Knights jumped on the board first in the top of the first inning when Blake Anderson singled in Fred Franklion from second, and Colton McKeithen later scored Anderson. West made it 4-0 in the top of the third when McKeithen and Daniel Hill both scored on errors.

West added two more runs to its lead in the top of the seventh off RBI singles by Stokes and Ryan Lane, giving Stokes a cushion going into the bottom half of the frame. But Stokes loaded the bases with one out, prompting Boatner to visit his starter on the mound. Boatner said, though, that he was trying to set up a pickoff play at second — which the Knights attempted, but the runner slid back into second safely.

“I told him to throw strikes, and if a man got on base, we were going to run a pickoff,” Boatner said. “We didn’t do what I wanted to, but we were just trying to settle him down. I had no intentions of pulling him.”

Said Stokes, “He told me he wasn’t going to pull me, we just needed an out, so I tried to get him an out. It made me feel good that he has confidence in me to pitch.”

Both coaches said their teams didn’t play their best games. Boatner lamented a lack of timely hitting at certain points in the game. Newton County, meanwhile, committed four errors in the field.

“Two pretty good teams played,” Newton County head coach Wyatt Tullos said. “I don’t think either team really played as good as they thought they were capable of playing. They did a few more things right than we did, so they won.”

Despite wet playing conditions in the outfield thanks to two straight days of rain, Tullos would not allow that to be used as an excuse.

“It was the same way for both teams,” Tullos said.

Edwards took the loss for Newton County, going six innings and giving up four runs — zero earned — on six hits. He also had seven strikeouts. Peyton Cain went 2-for-4 for the Cougars, and Albert McDougle had a double.

For the Knights, Hill finished the game 2-for-4, and McKeithen was 2-for-3. Franklion and Chase McClelland both had doubles.

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