By Robert Wilson

       First-year Germantown baseball coach Chris Peden wants to lead his Mavericks to the state championship and if he does, senior pitcher PJ Robertson will be a big reason why.

       Robertson was largely responsible for Germantown’s first goal being reached as he threw a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts to lead Germantown to a 10-0 victory over Clinton in six innings for the MHSAA Class 6A, Region 4 title and the No. 1 seed in the 6A playoffs last week at Germantown in Gluckstadt.

       For his outstanding performance, Robertson has been named the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.

       Robertson – who signed with defending national champion Pearl River Community College – allowed only two hits, a single by Clinton second baseman Takorre Clowers in the fourth inning and a single by senior centerfielder Bo Bland in the fifth inning. Robertson improved to 5-2 and lowered his earned run average to 2.00. He has allowed 19 hits in 35 innings with 52 strikeouts entering this week.

       Robertson bounced back from a rough game in the first game of three game series against Clinton. He walked three batters and hit two more and allowed four runs in only two innings.

       Germantown and Clinton split the first two games and the third game was delayed several days, giving Robertson a chance to redeem himself against the same team. He was outstanding in Game 3. It was the first time Clinton had been shut out all season and handed the Arrows only their third loss in 24 games.

       “We worked on JP’s tempo and speeding him up in between pitches,” said Peden, who came to Germantown after six seasons as head coach at Ridgeland. “He pounded the zone and worked ahead better than he had all year. When he does that, he’s hard to hit and helps him get deeper into the game. JP wants the ball in the big games. We are glad he plays for us.”

       Robertson has led Germantown to a 20-4 overall record and an 8-1 finish in region play entering this week.

       Robertson – a member of the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team this season – also had two hits in Game 3. He had a run-scoring single to help Germantown get off to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and had an RBI single for Germantown’s 10th run to end the game with a 10-run rule in the sixth inning.

       Robertson, who plays first base when he isn’t pitching, is hitting .367 with 19 runs scored, 27 RBIs, 7 doubles, 1 triple and 3 home runs this season.

Germantown gets a first-round bye in the 6A playoffs, which start next week.

       Robertson had a 9-1 record, a 1.04 ERA, 20 walks and 73 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings and helped Germantown to a 18-13 record and the MHSAA Class 6A quarterfinals last season. A right-hitting first baseman, Robertson hit .320 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

       Robertson was a second team starting pitcher on the All-Metro Jackson team last season.

       “JP is the most competitive player I have coached,” said Peden, who not only coached at Ridgeland for six seasons but was also an assistant coach at Madison Central for eight years before going to Ridgeland. “He takes that approach to practice and weight room, pretty much anything we do. JP is a leader and an awesome young man. He has an off period before baseball and works every day before practice in the cage and helps us with the ninth grade. JP leads by example.”

       “JP is a guy that we are very excited about bringing into our program,” Pearl River CC coach Michael Avalon said. “Last year he had a very strong campaign on the mound. We are most excited about JP’s versatility and athleticism. He should be a force on the mound and has turned himself into a potent hitter with a chance to both showcase some power at the plate as well as hit for average. That’s what makes JP a strong prospect.”