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Gators overcome 5-0 deficit

[02/19/01] NATCHEZ The youthful Vicksburg Gators showed that what they lack in experience, they make up for in tenacity.

Boo Hardy’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth scored pinch-runner Romell Barnes from third to lift the Gators (2-0) to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Franklin County (0-1) at the Natchez Classic Saturday.

In the second game, the Gators scored nine runs in the final inning to upend host Natchez, 12-5.

“I was real proud of our fight, I’ll guarantee you,” second-year Vicksburg coach Jamie Creel said. “We went down 5-0 and I thought we were a little shaken up … But there were a lot of positives there.”

Franklin County took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning and was riding the tails of standout pitcher Cole Zumbro.

The senior, considered one of the top prospects in the state, was clocked in the high-80s and allowed just two hits going into the bottom of the third.

David Stagg led off the inning with a walk, then Josh McBride reached on a catcher’s interference call. John Rohrer loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice.

J.J. Brown reached on a two-base error to score two, and Rohrer scored the Gators’ third run on a passed ball. Chris Middleton’s two-RBI single, the only one in the inning, knotted the game at 5.

“This game comes down to pitching and defense,” Bulldogs coach Johnny Monroe said. “We have to make those routine plays and today, we didn’t.”

Middleton, who pitched three innings, yielded to freshman lefty Justin Boler. The lanky junkballer retired all six Bulldogs he faced, including striking out two.

“What a tremendous job a ninth-grader did,” Creel said. “… He showed the intensity he has been in practice and did a great job.”

Vicksburg left a runner stranded at third in the bottom of the fourth, but with one out in the fifth, the Gators loaded the bases for Hardy.

The junior’s lined shot over second base easily scored Barnes. The game was called after the score because of a two-hour time limit.

Middleton led Vicksburg with a triple, single and two RBIs.

“I was proud of the way we made things happen when we needed to,” Creel said.

VHS 12, Natchez 5

Jeremy Herring’s sacrifice bunt in the top of the fifth inning gave Vicksburg a 6-5 lead and the Gators cruised from there.

Rohrer had a two-RBI triple to tie the game at five in the fifth, while Steven Randle had a two-RBI single and Middleton had a two-RBI single and scored a pair of runs.

Bob Berry pitched four innings and allowed four hits, five runs and struck out three. Mitchell Beauman struck out one in one inning of relief.

Vicksburg will play St. Andrew’s at 5 p.m. at Forest Hill Park on Monday.