Starr’s Mill hosted a pitching clinic against rival Whitewater during the squads three-game series this week.
The Panthers dominated the Wildcats on the mound and got three superb starts from its pitching staff. They held Whitewater to just one unearned run through 24 innings and sealed the series sweep with an 8-1 victory on Friday night.
“Our pitching was unbelievable all week,” Panthers head coach Brent Moseley said. “We went 24 innings and only gave up one unearned run. It has been unbelievable and we also started hitting today. We are working offensively to get better, but we are good on the mound.”
The Panthers got another quality start from senior Nathan Price. He allowed five hits over six innings of work and kept the Wildcats off-balanced all night. Price worked both sides of the plate and showed an elevated command of his fastball and sweeping breaking ball.
“I was trying to mix it up and keep them on their toes,” Price said. “We came at them and knew that we were up. All we had to do was attack them and throw a lot of strikes.”
As a result, Price collected six strikeouts and didn’t allow a walk on the night. His performance was more than enough for the Panther’s offense. Starr’s Mill jumped on Whitewater early as they raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning.
Senior Mitchell Sutton ignited the offense with three RBIs on the night. He went 3-for-5 and reached base four times in the game. Sutton’s biggest contribution came in the third inning as he drove in seniors Dawson Sweatt and Jake Blinstrub.
After Sweatt reached with a single and Blinstrub was hit by a pitch, Sutton took a 2-2 fastball and drove it down the right field line. The single drove in both runs and forced Wildcats starter Jacob Hawkins from the game.
Hawkins allowed five runs in his three innings of work. He couldn’t command his fastball and fell behind hitters frequently. He was replaced by Dylan Goodman, Jacob Atha, and Robbie Lunsford, who each pitched well in relief.
However, it was Sutton’s big play that created the momentum shift for Starr’s Mill. According to Moseley, it set the table for the rest of the game.
“They are putting it in play and we are also doing some things on the bases to ignite some offense,” Moseley said. “We are bunting and running and doing some sacrifices. We are trying to get runners in motion and play baseball that way right now.”
With a five-run lead, Price continued to shut down the Wildcats through the middle innings. After giving up a double to Whitewater’s Dylan Morris, Price set down 11 of the last 14 batters he faced.
In the sixth inning, he ran into some trouble as the Wildcats scored on an error from catcher Dalton Goodman. He overthrew first baseman Chase Townsend as he attempted a snap-throw to first base.
The ball sailed into right field and junior Landon Busby raced around to score Whitewater’s only run. However, Price pitched around that trouble spot to induce a TJ Berry to groundout to end the inning.
“That is how he has been all year,” Moseley said. “I think this is his third or fourth start and he has given us a tremendous start every time. He has gone six or seven innings every time and he has been really reliable.”
Starr’s Mill added a couple insurance runs in the sixth and seventh inning off the bat of Sutton and senior catcher Charlie Mizzell. The duo helped Starr’s Mill take advantage of five errors from Whitewater to pick up the victory.
After the game, Whitewater head coach Rusty Bennett was encouraged by his team’s performance. He was proud of the Wildcats’ pitching and their fight throughout the series. He knows his team will battle and has confidence they will turn it around.
“We took some things from this series as we didn’t play very good baseball,” Bennett said. “I thought we pitched the ball well through most of this series. Offensively, we got to back to the drawing board. We got a lot of season left and we will work on some things and try to get some rhythm at the plate in next series.”
Whitewater fell to 4-9 (2-4 in region) on the season. They will be back in action against Fayette County on March 13. Starr’s Mill improved to 6-5 (5-0 in region) and will face Morrow on Saturday afternoon.
Price believes the team can take momentum from this series and ride it for the rest of the season.
“I think we need to work on hitting as we were a little weak,” Price said. “But other than that, I think we can go out and sweep the rest of the region.”
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