Both Rockers roll to Gov. Cup titles

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 7, 2000

The Vicksburg Rockers spent all day Sunday dodging bullets and tiptoeing through minefields, but it paid off with a Governor’s Cup championship.

The Rockers used the help of a controversial call to beat Baton Rouge 4-2 in the semifinals, then used a triple play and a three-run homer by Humphrey Barlow to beat Mandeville 8-6 in the 13-14-year-olds’ title game and become just the second Vicksburg team to win a Governor’s Cup title in that age group.

“It’s been a long day, but we played as a team and won as a team,” said Rockers’ pitcher Justin Boler, who got the win against Baton Rouge and went 3-for-4 against Mandeville.

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Mandeville went up 1-0 on a solo homer by Daniel Burke to lead off the bottom of the second inning, but couldn’t capitalize on several opportunities.

The Zephyrs left the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings and were the victims of a triple play in the third.

With runners on second and third, Mandeville catcher Gene Garcia hit a liner to center that Vicksburg’s Ben Shelton caught on the run. Shelton threw to Zane Key at second to double up Jake Briggs, and Key threw home to get Mandeville second baseman John Greer, who was trying to score from third.

Greer evaded the tag of catcher Casey Trest, but was ruled out of the baseline for the third out.

“It was a good call,” Greer said.

The Rockers kept the momentum going in the top of the fourth with a seven-run outburst. Vicksburg tied the game with two walks and an errant pickoff throw from the catcher to first that rolled all the way to the fence, allowing winning pitcher Ryan Hoben to score.

Another walk to Drew Smith set the stage for Barlow, who belted an offering from Mandeville starter Derrick Waldrop over the left-center field fence for a 4-1 lead.

“That gave us the lead and gave us momentum,” Vicksburg coach Joe Key said.

Vicksburg added three more runs on three singles and several wild pitches, and another in the fifth on Drew Smith’s triple and an error on a Barlow grounder, but Mandeville mounted a comeback.

The Zephyrs scored two runs in the fourth before leaving the bases loaded, and got two more in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Waldrop and an RBI single from Robert Goings to cut it to 8-6.

Defense bailed the Rockers out again, however. Defensive substitute Michael Presson made a diving catch to start the inning, and Boler got two groundouts sandwiched around a walk and Goings’ single to end the game.

“It looked like we might be able to pull it off, but we were just a day late and a dollar short,” Mandeville coach Buddy Garcia said.

Vicksburg 4, Baton Rouge 2

In the semifinal, the game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Shelton reached on an error and stole second.

With two outs, Shelton took a huge lead, nearly halfway to third base. Baton Rouge pitcher Brandon Herring wheeled and threw to second and Shelton barely beat the throw, sliding in just under the tag of second baseman Sam Hay.

Hay protested and was ejected. Drew Smith then came through with an RBI single to score Shelton, giving Vicksburg a 3-2 lead. Zane Key added an RBI double to increase the lead to 4-2.

“He was out and our second baseman said he was out, but hey, that’s a judgment call by the umpire … that was the difference in the ballgame,” Baton Rouge coach Steve Burke said.

Baton Rouge threatened in the top of the seventh, getting two men on with one out, when it briefly benefited from an oversight by Vicksburg.

Baton Rouge had all 14 of its players in the lineup, so Hay’s ejection meant an out when he was due to bat. Baton Rouge had runners on first and second with two outs and center fielder Jason Arbour at the plate and Hay’s spot in the order due up next.

Instead of issuing an intentional walk to Arbour to end the game, however, the Rockers pitched to him. Arbour flied out to left to end the game.

“That’s their alternative. That’s the classy thing to do, is to let the kids play,” Burke said.

Vicksburg coach Joe Key said he just didn’t realize Hay was due up next.

“I didn’t even realize it,” Key said. “Put that down as a coaching error.”