SP Baseball

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2011

Babb pitches one-hitter

By Brad Greer

South Panola’s  Mitchel Babb was not perfect Wednesday night as he took to the hill against district foe Starkville, but he was awfully close to it.

The senior southpaw fired a one-hitter while striking out 12 and walking six to lead the Tigers to a 3-0 victory over the Yellowjackets in their first meeting of the season. The win moved South Panola (13-5; 3-2) into sole possession of second place behind No.1 ranked Tupelo in the Region 2-6A standings.

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Babb and Starkville right-hander Garrett Batson found themselves locked in a pitchers’ duel through four innings as both hurlers mowed down the opposing batters and both teams combined for only one hit.

Starkville got their lone hit of the contest as Jaquez Johnson led off the top of the fifth with a solid single to left field. Babb (4-2) got out of the inning by getting Daniel Murphree to pop out and then fanned the next two batters.

The Tigers broke open  the ice in the bottom half of the inning as No. 9 hitter Will Dickins drilled a two-out double to left. Chris Townsend followed with a single up the middle to drive in Dickins.

South Panola added two huge insurance runs in the sixth by plating two runs on three hits on a pair of errors by the Yellowjackets. Babb led off the inning with a single only to have coutesy runner DaShawn Lindsey get thrown out trying to steal second for the first out. After Lee Self followed with a single, Andrew Horne flied out for the second out of the inning. Bobby Epps then slapped a single up the middle to send Self to third while Epps moved to second on the throw.

Batson then made a crucial mistake as a pickoff attempt at second ricocheted off pinch-runners’ Tevis Flowers foot that gave Self enough time to score for a 2-0 lead. Flowers scored one batter later as Taylor Meek reached on an error.

Babb made things interesting by walking three straight batters to load the bases with no outs. The lefty then retaliated by striking out the next three batters to end the game.

“I really did not expect a pitching battle, but we sure got one tonight,” said South Panola head coach Patrick Robey. “I told the kids that when you have starting pitchers that start settling into a groove, I think hitters start getting a little complacent and don’t think they have to score a lot runs.

“Their guy (Batson) did a great job mixing his change up with his fastball. We hit some balls hard that were caught and that is all you can hope for as they will fall somewhere. Mitchel did another fantastic job for us on the mound and Will (Dickins) came up with a huge hit that opened the door for us,” added Robey.

South Panola collected six hits in the game as Babb led the offensive charge with a double and single. Dickins followed with a double while Townsend, Self and Epps all singled.

The Tigers will travel to Starkville tonight for a 6 p.m. first pitch then will host Byhalia tomorrow at 11 & 1 p.m. followed by M.S. Palmer at 4 & 6 p.m.