Columbia pitcher Tyler Myrick winds up to throw a pitch against Middleburg in Thursday’s District 3-7A final. The Tigers won 4-1, clinching their second straight district championship (photo by JORDAN KROEGER/Lake City Reporter).

IN THE GROOVE

Tyler Myrick hitting his stride at the right time for CHS.

 

In November, Tyler Myrick headed south to Puerto Rico to play with the New York Mets’ scout team.

The Columbia ace was hoping to put his talents on display.

Instead, he suffered an injury that set himself back right before his senior season at Columbia.

Myrick suffered a broken pinky when a line drive came blasting back toward him and grazed his hand. That injury prevented the senior from throwing until right before the season and his groove to begin his final campaign as a Tiger was anything but groovy.

He suffered a loss in his first start against Providence on Feb. 12, surrendering three earned runs while lasting just an inning and two-thirds. The next start didn’t go much better, another loss to Chiles when he gave up two earned runs in less than five innings.

Myrick didn’t pick up his first victory until his third start of the season, a night where he finally looked like the pitcher who posted a 0.67 ERA as a junior. He shut Vanguard out in four innings to lead the Tigers to a district win.

“At the beginning of the year I just had to get back into it,” Myrick said. “I was out of rhythm because I broke my pinky and started throwing the ball three weeks before practice so it was just hard to get back into the rhythm. I was just trying to do too much when I didn’t have my stuff.”

He had his stuff in Thursday night’s district championship game, shutting Middleburg out until the seventh inning to lead Columbia to a 4-1 victory and back-to-back titles.

It was redemption for Myrick at his finest, but to the surprise of no one in the Tigers’ clubhouse.

“We all knew where he was going to be at the end of the year. None of us panicked,” Columbia head coach Heath Phillips said. “We knew what we were going to get out of him [Thursday]. He’s just one of those kids that wants the ball in the seventh inning with the game on the line. That’s just the type of person he is.”

After his win over Vanguard on March 4, Myrick only gave up one earned run over his next 23 innings in four starts, going 1-1 with two no-decisions.

The Alabama State signee suffered a bit of a hiccup against Trinity Christian on April 8, giving up four earned runs over three innings in his fourth loss of the year, but bounced back right before the district tournament with a win over Buchholz in his final start of the regular season a week later.

Myrick finished the regular season 4-4 with a 1.81 ERA, and although that wasn’t the record he was hoping to post at the beginning of the year, he wasn’t about to suffer a fifth loss Thursday night.

Even after walking two batters and giving up an unearned run in the seventh inning, Myrick wasn’t going to let another district championship slip through his fingers.

Even after Columbia failed to turn a double play that could’ve ended the game.

With the tying run at the plate and in need of one more out, Myrick went to his best pitch, striking out the 10th Bronco of the night to give the Tigers the title and home field in next week’s regional quarterfinal against Nease.

“He worked on some things (early in the season) and got some things figured out,” Phillips said. “Him and (assistant) coach (Joey) Edge got it fixed and it showed (Thursday) in his command. He had real good command of all three pitches. He’s just a workhorse. He worked his butt off to get to where he is. A kid like that, what can you say? They don’t come around very often.”

Enough said.

Second Slider: 

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