By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Mt. Vernon —
On Friday morning, Southwestern senior Logan Starnes was voted the 12th Region Player of the Year by the coaches throughout region.
In Monday evening’s opening round of the 12th Region Baseball Tournament, it was Starnes coming through with a ‘player of the year’ performance in the Southwestern Warriors’ match-up versus cross-town rival Pulaski County.
Starnes simply did it all for the Warriors, having a big night both on the mound and at the plate. Thanks to the play of Starnes, it was Alex Eaton and the Warriors moving on in regional tournament action with an extra-inning, 1-0 victory over the Pulaski County Maroons on Monday night at Rockcastle County High School.
After both teams failed to plate a run in the scheduled seven innings, fans got to watch an extra inning of regional baseball action - and what an inning it was to witness.
In the top half of the eighth inning, it looked as if Danny Masten’s Maroons would plate the first run of the night. Despite having runners reach first and third base, Pulaski would fail to score, keeping the ballgame tied up at 0-0.
With two outs on the board in the bottom of the frame, Starnes came up to the plate and delivered in a big way, smashing a ball over the left field fence for a walk-off home run. The game-winning home run gave the Warriors a 1-0 victory and allowed them to advanced to the semifinals, where they earned a match-up with West Jessamine.
Following the solo shot to end the ballgame, Eaton was thinking about just how much Starnes did for the Warriors in the opening round-game with the Maroons, along with how much the senior proved that he deserved the player of the year award.
“When Logan hit that home run, I was thinking about how he played like a player of the year,” told Eaton. “He has been the heart and soul of this program for a while, and for the coaches throughout the entire 12th Region to choose him for 12th Region Player of the Year, is a special thing for him. The way he controlled the game on the mound tonight - that’s what a player of the year does.”
Starnes, who not only hit the game-winning home run, pitched all eight innings for the Warriors. In his eight-inning outing, the senior gave up three hits and had ten strikeouts in a shutout victory.
At the plate, Starnes was just as dangerous, as he had half of the Warriors’ six hits on the night. In fact, Starnes tallied a game-high three hits, including the home run to send Southwestern into the semifinals.
As the second-year Maroon skipper stated after the game, it came down to one at-bat.
“Logan is their best player, and he pitched a great game,” Masten stated. “When it came for his time to shine, he hit the ball over the wall. Good players step-up in big situations, and he did. It came down to one at-bat and Logan got the best of us.”
Pulaski junior Aaron Smith had a nice performance on the mound and pitched well enough to win the contest. The Maroon pitcher, in eight innings, gave up one run on six hits and had nine strikeouts.
The Maroons fought with all they had in the opening game of the regional tournament, but they would fall just short, bringing an end to their season.
“There is nothing for the kids to hang their head about,” told the Pulaski coach. “I thought Aaron did a great job tonight - he pitched well enough to win. We had a lot of missed opportunities out there, and I think both teams did.”
Pulaski’s final record for the 2013 season will stand at 20-13.
Southwestern, who moved to 26-8 with the win, needs a pair of wins to advance to the Forcht Bank/KHSAA Baseball State Tournament. Eaton was glad to get one game out of the way, but the Warriors still have plenty of business left to take care of if they want to punch their tickets to Lexington.
“That’s one victory, but we’ve got two to go,” Eaton concluded. “We’ve got to got to win against West Jessamine. We are going to celebrate for a few minutes, but then it’s back to work. Hats off to Aaron Smith, because he threw lights out. It was a great 12th Region game and cross-town rivalry - it’s just one of those nights.”
Look for details of last night’s West Jessamine-Southwestern contest in an upcoming edition of the Commonwealth Journal.
PC - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 3 2
SW - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 1 6 1
W - Starnes (SW)
L - Smith (PC)
2B - Jones (PC)
HR - Starnes (SW)
RBI - Starnes (SW)