By Robert Wilson
Mark Fanning has won 524 games in 25 seasons at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, but he has never had a pitcher have as many strikeouts in a game as Matthew Azordegan did last week.
The senior right-handed pitcher/third baseman and Hinds Community College signee had 19 strikeouts and threw a two-hitter for a complete game victory in a 1-0 win over Magee last Tuesday in a MSHAA Class 3A, Region 6 game at St. Andrew’s in Ridgeland.
Azordegan also went 4 for 6 with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and 2 runs batted in and led St. Andrew’s to two victories and the region championship.
For his outstanding performance, Azordegan has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.
Azordegan had four strikeouts in the first inning (a runner reached after a strikeout and passed ball by the catcher) and struck out the first seven batters. The first 15 outs were all strikeouts. He allowed two singles in the fourth inning. Azordegan threw 115 pitches, five under the maximum allowed in one game by the MSHAA. Magee, which had been the Class 3A state runner-up in 2019 and last season (no tournament in 2020 due to covid), was in first place in the region entering last week.
In the second game, Azordegan hit a run-scoring double in the first inning to get St. Andrew’s off to an early lead. He ended the game by fielding a slow roller for the third out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning in a 6-2 victory.
He has now thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings, seven against Magee, three against Raleigh and seven against McLaurin. Madison St. Joseph was the last team to score a run against him on March 26.
Azordegan is 6-1 with a 1.89 earned run average and has allowed only 13 hits in 45 2/3 innings with 89 strikeouts and 29 walks. He ranks third in Mississippi and 21st in the country in strikeouts, according to MaxPreps. Azordegan is hitting .435 with 22 RBIs, 22 runs scored, 10 doubles, 1 triple and 2 home runs and led St. Andrew’s to a 16-8-1 overall record and 7-1 in region play.
“Matthew has continued to improve each season and has worked really hard to be the best player he can be,” Fanning said. “He has put in many hours in the weight room to go along with his band and throwing routine.
“Matthew has always been a talented pitcher, but you could really see everything starting to come together his sophomore year before our season was shut down. He came back stronger than ever his junior year, and then has raised his game to another level this season.
“We have not provided Matthew with a lot of run support in certain games this season, but fortunately he has not needed that much. He has two 1-0 shutouts and a 1-1 tie, in which he did not give up any hits, but the game ended tied due to a tournament time limit.”
St. Andrew’s plays host to Enterprise, 10-15, Thursday at 7 p.m. in the first game of a best-of-three series in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs at St. Andrew’s in Ridgeland.