Stinson picks up first win Saturday against Oak GroveBy CAMAL PETRO,
HATTIESBURG – Hattiesburg senior A.J. Stinson saved his best outing of the season for a good time.
Stinson toed the rubber Saturday afternoon against Oak Grove and pitched four shutout innings in a 3-2 win over the Warriors. The performance was his first win of the season after two prior starts against Sumrall and George County.
“It was a great atmosphere and I was going against a great team,” Stinson said after the Tigers held on for the win. “I was just trying to do my best. It was against our rival.”
Against Hattiesburg’s neighbors to the west, it was the perfect opportunity for Stinson to bounce back after his two losses earlier in the season.
“It was an excellent outing,” Hattiesburg coach Joe Hartfield said. “As soon as he toed the mound today he was locked in. He had excellent mechanics, he wasn’t trying to overthrow and he’s a major reason we won this ballgame today. It was a team effort, don’t get me wrong, but he set the tone for us.”
Stinson struck out five Oak Grove batters, walked three and allowed just three hits throughout his four innings. His night was even more impressive when paired with the fact that Oak Grove was hitting .323 coming into the day where each team played two games.
Both Oak Grove and Hattiesburg beat Lawrence County earlier in the day.
“(The fastball) was working for me great,” Stinson said. “The coaches called great pitches and my curveball was working, too.”
Stinson’s day, however, wasn’t the cleanest, but he pitched around trouble well enough to not allow any runs to score.
He began the game with a leadoff walk to junior John Rhys Plumlee, who was later caught in a rundown in-between first and second base, and sophomore Turner Swistak doubled during the next at-bat. Stinson got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning, though.
In the second inning, he allowed a one-out single but nothing more, then walked two batters in the third without allowing a run. In the fourth, Oak Grove put runners at first and second with one out, but Stinson got junior Rhett Blackburn to fly out and senior Hayden Sikes grounded out to Stinson for the third out.
“Just stay the same I’ve always been,” Stinson said when asked about pitching around trouble. “That was my mindset. I keep the same approach every time I pitch, so if I get in a jam, I have to work through it,”
Once Stinson exited the game, Oak Grove put the pressure on the Hattiesburg relievers. Junior Landon Rascoe started the fifth inning with a strikeout before Swistak worked a walk, but back-to-back fly outs ended the inning.
The Warriors loaded the bases with three walks in the sixth inning, prompting the Tigers to go to senior Jay Reedy on the mound. Sikes singled to score sophomore DeeJay Booth and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Plumlee scored junior Alex Bolling to cut Hattiesburg’s lead to 3-2. Reedy was able to strikeout senior Hayes Maples to prevent Oak Grove from tying or taking the lead, then had an easy inning in the seventh to close out the game.
Hattiesburg scored its first run in the second inning when freshman pinch runner Jermel Ford scored from second base after sophomore Adrian Felts hit a weak ground ball to second. In the third, senior Joe Gray notched his fourth home run of the season – a two-run shot – to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage.
The Tigers (8-2, 1-0 in Region 7-5A) are back in action Tuesday at Pearl River Central for a 7 p.m. first pitch. The Warriors (6-3, 2-0 in Region 5-6A) will travel to Wayne County on Tuesday for a 1 p.m. contest.