RIPLEY – The Ripley Tigers hosted Starkville on Thursday in one of Ripley’s final regular season games before the Class 4A baseball playoffs begin on April 29. The Tigers got ahead early and didn’t let up, taking the 8-2 victory and giving Ripley plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.
“That’s probably the most complete game we’ve played all year,” Ripley head coach Joel Gafford said postgame. “Which is what we’ve been talking about. We’re not worried about the outcome or anything else that’s going on outside of here. It’s just trying to get to where we’re playing at the level that we need to be playing, and not paying attention to any other noise that’s going on.”
Ripley (17-6, 5-3) got started early, as a leadoff single by Micah Johnston led to an RBI-double by Reed Scott in the bottom of the first. A 3 RBI-double by Reed Shackelford in the third inning gave the Tigers a comfortable 4-0 lead before a three-run bottom of the fifth gave Ripley a comfortable 7-0 lead.
Starkville got on the board in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs, but a Connor Graves sacrifice-fly in the bottom of the inning pushed the Tigers’ lead to 8-2. A pair of seventh-inning strikeouts by Johnston, pitching in relief of starter Ty Long, helped seal the game for Ripley. Long pitched 5.2 innings, giving up one earned run on seven hits while striking out two.
Johnston, Scott, Shackelford, and Jak Ketchum all picked up two or more hits for the Tigers, with Shackelford specifically going three of three with three RBIs and a walk.