CEDAR BLUFF – There’s something about playing at Cedar Bluff lately for Spring Garden senior Weston Kirk.
Back on Jan. 28, Kirk fell a point short of tying a Panther boys basketball scoring record with 52 points in a single game. His performance led Spring Garden to a 93-49 victory over the Tigers.
Kirk turned in another masterful performance in baseball on Friday evening at Cedar Bluff. He surrendered just one hit, struck out 12 and walked three in the Panthers’ 12-1 win in five innings.
“It’s pretty fun to play well against Cedar Bluff,” Kirk said. “They’re been our biggest rival since I’ve been here.”
Kirk’s stellar pitching performance came a day after he had a game-ending three-run homer against Coosa, Ga. While he’s got plenty of power at the plate, Kirk said “pitching has always been natural” to him.
“It’s always been my favorite part about baseball,” he said. “When you’re on the mound, you can control the game — how fast you want to play, how long you want to play. Being on the mound, you’ve got to be a different type of person to get out there and just dominate.”
And dominate he did, even when the Tigers (0-2) gained a little momentum in the bottom of the third inning.
With two outs, Cedar Bluff starting pitcher Jacob Burleson reached on an error at second. Third baseman Corey Teague then drew a walk to bring catcher Preston Burt to the plate. Burt delivered a single to right center to score Burleson, but he was caught trying to steal second for the final out of the inning.
“That hit kind of made me mad,” Kirk said. “In my head, I was just thinking ‘they can’t get another one.’ I started throwing a little harder. It got my adrenaline pumping.”
Kirk closed out the game with six straight strikeouts.
“He pitched well,” Spring Garden coach Tony Benefield said. “He pitched a great game the other day over at Oxford against Chilton County. It was like 68 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, so I knew he’d pitch well today and he did.
“We had one little error out there that kind of hurt us in that one inning, but I don’t think he’d have given up a hit if it weren’t for that. A couple of times in the game he hit about 3, 4, or 5 miles faster because he knew he needed to against a good hitter. He hit his spots and it worked perfectly.”
“He filled it up all night long,” Cedar Bluff coach Jim Nelson said of Kirk. “Everything we got we had to earn. That’s what good pitchers do. They make you earn everything you get.”
Spring Garden (4-5) gave Kirk all the run support he needed in the top of the second inning. The Panthers batted around against Burleson. Kenneth Petty and Ryley Kirk both delivered RBI- hits. The rest of their runs in the inning were unearned.
The Panthers padded their lead with a pair of runs in the top of the third on back-to-back RBI-doubles from designated hitter Cam Welsh and centerfielder Chaz Pope.
Kirk delivered a two-run triple to center and scored a run on a passed ball as part of the Panthers’ five-run fifth for the final.
“I’m proud of the whole team,” Benefield said. “We’ve been struggling hitting the ball lately, but hopefully we pulled it together tonight. I’m hoping it’s all starting to come together at the right time because our area starts the week after next.”
Burleson suffered the loss after working three innings. He walked three and struck out three before being relieved by Burt in the fourth.
“Whenever we’re pitching, you’ve got to throw strikes and you’ve got to fill it up to give yourself a chance,” Nelson said. “Whenever you walk people, you’re not giving yourself a chance. They made us earn what we got, and whenever you’re making people earn stuff, it’s hard to keep stringing things together.”
- Today’s Info
- Listen Live
- About Us