PEARL – Facing an ace pitcher, the inability to hit in the clutch doomed defending champion East Union on Wednesday in the opening game of the MHSAA 2A baseball championship series.
In a rematch of last year's championship series, Loyd Star defeated the Urchins 4-0 in a game that was 1-0 going to the seventh.
Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Trustmark Park. If a third game is necessary, it will be Saturday.
Junior Cade Hodges, the Mississippi Association of Coaches 2A player of the year, was in command for Loyd Star, allowing two hits with 13 strikeouts.
"My slider was working as my out pitch," he said.
East Union was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, which Urchins coach Chris Basil said was a key. "We had some opportunities to score some runs early. Hodges did a tremendous job today. You have to give him all the credit."
Hodges improved to 10-1 with 107 strikeouts in 71.1 innings and a 0.88 ERA. He also pitched a shutout against St. Joseph last week in the South State final.
East Union starter Joel Wilkinson (8-5) nearly matched Hodges through six innings, allowing three hits and one run while retiring 17 of the first 18 batters.
"I thought he did a tremendous job, too," Basil said. "I'm very proud of him."
After Wilkinson retired the first nine batters, James Beard led off the fourth for Loyd Star with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hodges.
The Hornets broke the game open with three runs against Wilkinson and his brother Zane in the seventh, the final two coming in on East Union's only error.
Basil said he had not decided on a Game 2 starter.
Senior Parker Flowers (8-1, 2.60 ERA) will start for Loyd Star. His only loss of the season came last Friday against St. Joseph.