STARKVILLE — Will McReynolds did it all for Starkville Academy on Thursday night.
Donning a knee brace to protect himself from aggravating an injury sustained earlier this season, the junior made his fourth appearance on the mound this season in the Vols’ 8-3 victory over Washington School in Game 2 of the opening round of the MAIS Class 4A playoffs Thursday.
Using primarily a two-seam fastball as his mainstay and a curveball as his secondary pitch, McReynolds picked up the win after tossing four innings and striking out five Washington hitters. McReynolds also led the team at the plate, contributing three hits in the victory.
“I’m seeing everything right now and (the ball) gets bigger and bigger,” McReynolds said. “It’ll be like a beach ball if we make it to the state final.”
After stringing together 10 hits to complete the two-game sweep in the best-of-three series, Starkville Academy will be on the road next Tuesday for Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against Pillow Academy.
“That’s been us all year is to grind out at-bats and wear down the pitcher,” Starkville Academy coach Thomas Berkery said. “It’s not always fancy for us. Sometimes we’ll produce a couple singles, a passed ball and a walk. Next thing you know you looked up and we scored a few.”
The Volunteers put up a three-spot in the opening inning, highlighted by a two-run triple from Ayden Alsobrooks that saw Washington’s center fielder collide with the outfield wall and momentarily lie motionless on the ground before eventually walking off the field under his own power.
“You got to love the effort by the kid and love the swing by our guy,” Berkery said. “Great swing by Alsobrooks there.”
In the second inning, Washington tied the contest with a single and an error. But McReynolds shook off the rough frame and delivered two more scoreless frames.
“I was trying to throw some strikes and trust my infielders and outfielders,” said McReynolds, who made his second start of the season after an 80-pitch outing in his last appearance.
Berkery said McReynolds will be key on the mound down the stretch as a viable left-handed option.
“Will’s done a good job. He’s a guy that hasn’t pitched a lot for us this year coming off that knee injury,” Berkery said. “We just told him in the dugout to keep his head down and get his work in.”
Starkville Academy took the lead for good on a fourth-inning RBI double from Porter Skelton, who was playing in his first game in 10 days. Skelton finished with two hits and three RBIs on the night.
The Volunteers put up a three spot in the fifth after an infield RBI single from Alsobrooks and another clutch hit from Skelton. Harris McReynolds capped off the scoring in the sixth inning with a solo home run that was lifted over the fence in left center field.
Drew Williams closed out the game on the mound for Starkville Academy, pitching three scoreless innings while striking out three batters, including two in the final frame.
“Drew’s been really steady for us all year, and he really competes,” Berkery said.
Oak Hill Academy 12, North Delta 0, four innings
WEST POINT — Oak Hill Academy advanced to the second round of the MAIS Class 3A playoffs with a 12-0 win over North Delta School in four innings Thursday in West Point.
Pitcher Carson Taylor had an RBI double in the first inning and led the shutout effort on the mound.
Oak Hill will play Kirk Academy in the second round. Game 1 will be Tuesday in Grenada.
Ripley 8, Starkville 2
RIPLEY — Starkville High School fell 8-2 on Thursday at Ripley.
Mason Thurlow drove in a run for the Yellow Jackets.
Ethan Pulliam had six strikeouts in 4.1 innings on the mound.
Nettleton 10, West Point 7
WEST POINT — West Point was beaten 10-7 by Nettleton in Thursday’s home game.
Jordan Fitzpatrick drove in three runs for the Green Wave.
Elijah Young had five strikeouts in four innings, and Ahmari Cox struck out three in three innings.
Rossville Christian Academy (Tenn.) 8, Columbus Christian Academy 7
ROSSVILLE, Tenn. — Columbus Christian Academy was eliminated from the MAIS Class 2A playoffs with an 8-7 loss to Rossville Christian Academy (Tennessee) on Thursday.
Jackson Howard pitched six innings for the Rams and doubled in the third and sixth. Daniel Pate had a double and two singles, driving in a run, and Tyler Looney had a pair of RBI singles.
Drake Shaw and Luke Phillips both doubled in the fourth inning
Columbus Christian headed into the sixth inning up 6-5, but Rossville Christian took the lead in the bottom of the sixth with three runs.
Caleb Farlow pitched the seventh inning for the Rams.
Tunica Academy 12, Hebron Christian 0
TUNICA — Hebron Christian School was also eliminated from the MAIS Class 2A playoffs on Thursday.
The Eagles lost 12-0 at Tunica Academy in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.
Hebron dropped Game 1 by a score of 17-0 on Tuesday.
West Point 13, Noxapater 12
NOXAPATER — West Point scored five runs in the fifth inning and five more in the sixth to beat Noxapater 13-12 on Thursday’s road game.
Kendryn Whitacre had two hits and drove in three runs for the Green Wave, and Marqueshia Starks had two RBIs.
Ja’leah Orr pitched a complete game for West Point with five strikeouts.
The Green Wave will host Cleveland Central at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
Hodge is the former sports editor for The Dispatch.