Meridian Star

Sports

June 5, 2014

Golden Spikes rally to top Hub City River

MERIDIAN — Despite his team falling behind in the top of the sixth inning, Blake Key never lost his confidence.

The former Northeast Lauderdale High School standout and the rest of his Meridian Golden Spikes teammates were staring at a 2-1 deficit after leading 1-0 for several innings. But the Golden Spikes rallied in the bottom half of the frame, scoring seven runs to take an 8-2 lead over the Hub City River Cats Wednesday evening.

The score would stick, improving Meridian to 2-0 in Deep South Collegiate League play. The go-ahead inning was something Key was confident would happen, he said.

“I knew we had it in the bag,” said Key, who finished the game 3-for-4. “We had some good guys in the lineup coming up, and had a good guy on the mound.”

Key was a major part of the Golden Spikes’ big inning, in which he hit an RBI single that sent home two runs to make it 6-2 Meridian. But the scoring began several batters before Key stepped to the plate.

Brock Montgomery came home on a fielder’s choice by former Newton County High School standout Reagan Warren to tie the game 2-2. Then a bases-loaded walk by Xavier Franklin gave Meridian a 3-2 lead. Warren scored next on a passed ball, and Key followed that up with his two-RBI single. E.J. Perry capped off the Golden Spikes’ scoring by plating two extra runs on a single to make it 8-2.

“They walked some guys, so we didn’t absolutely hit our way out of it, but we finally got some timely hits after having runners on base all day,” Meridian head coach Travis Creel said. “We really couldn’t get that two-out timely hit (before the sixth), and finally in the sixth inning, we did.”

Reliever Connor Colgate got the win, pitching two innings of one-run ball. Starter and former Lamar School standout Witt Haggard pitched the first five innings, giving up one unearned run on two hits. He also walked two, hit a batter and fanned six. Haggard, who will be a fifth-year senior at Delta State University this upcoming school year, said he was pleased with being able to make it five innings.

“My breaking ball was good,” Haggard said of his performance. “I didn’t spot my fastball like I wanted to, but I felt good just getting a start in, because I’ve been late relief this past year, so I wanted to see if I could start, and I felt good out there.”

Meridian took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Key plated Franklin with an RBI single. The River Cats scored two runs in the top of the sixth.

The Deep South Collegiate League offers players like Haggard a chance to get some extra work in after the season is over. As someone who has aspirations to start next spring, Haggard said he’s eager to get as many innings as possible this summer.

“I’m trying to get my arm in shape to become a starter next year at Delta State,” Haggard said. “I’d like to get some more innings in.”

While colleges play with metal bats, the Deep South Collegiate League uses wooden bats. Key, who will be a sophomore next season at East Mississippi Community College, said the adjustment hasn’t been too difficult.

“It’s a little different,” Key said. “The ball doesn’t travel as much, but it feels better on your hands.”

Myers finished the game 2-for-3, and Perry and Montgomery were both 2-for-4.

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