Vikings use brains, bats to beat Meridian, 8-1

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2001

[02/23/01] BRANDON Taylor Tankersley ignored the cold weather and the seven radar guns pointed at him all night to shut down Meridian, 8-1, in the opening round of the Mid Mississippi Classic at Northwest Rankin.

Tankersley (2-0), an Alabama signee, struck out 10 Wildcats (3-2) and scattered six hits to improve the Vikings to 4-0 on the young season.

“Me and Taylor had a talk before the game and we said, we’re gonna do this,’ ” catcher Kevin Coker said. “He’s the best around. The best.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

While Tankersley’s pitching stifled the Wildcats’ bats, it was a pair of heady plays by him and Coker that stole the show.

With the Vikings leading 5-1 in the top of the fourth, Meridian’s Richmond Alexander, who had singled, stole second and moved to third on a flyout, tried to steal home.

Alexander was almost home when the pitch was delivered, but Tankersley purposely hit Chris Roberts, creating a deadball situation. The senior lefty raced toward home pleading with the umpire that the runner had to return to third, which in the rulebook is correct.

Tankersley then got Tyler Singleton to fly out to right field, keeping Meridian from scoring.

“On a squeeze play, when the batter is hit, the play is dead,” Tankersley said. “You’re taught as a pitcher that if they have a squeeze on and they are going to score, you hit the batter. So that’s what I did.”

While Tankersley’s play kept Meridian from scoring, Coker gave his team an extra run.

Coker ripped a single in the bottom of the fifth with two outs to score two runs. He got hung up between first and second base when he saw Chris Hite break from third toward home.

Coker turned toward first, ran a few steps, then dropped and started rolling across the infield dirt toward first base. Kris Barnett did not make the tag until after Hite had crossed the plate, giving WC its eighth run.

“This team’s biggest attribute is knowing the game of baseball,” WC coach Sam Temple said. “They are very smart, very savvy and know the ins and outs of this game.”

Carl Upton led the Vikings’ nine-hit attack with a pair of singles and two RBIs, while Hite had two hits and Brian Pettway had an RBI single, but reached base all four times he was up. Pettway walked twice and was hit by a pitch.

Tankersley scored a pair of runs and John Morgan Mims had a first-inning RBI single.

Andy Slayton’s bloop single that scored John Stevens in the top of the second was all Meridian could muster. After the run, the next two batters went down swinging.

“We tried to play small-ball because (Tankersley) is so tough and dominant on the mound,” Meridian coach Vince McLemore said. “He does a great job throwing strikes and moving the ball around. We just tried to make a few things happen, but we had a few breaks go against us.”

WC broke the game open in the bottom of the third after Hite and Tankersley each had bunt singles and Coker walked to load the bases for Pettway, who delivered a shot to score two runs. Upton’s two-out single scored Pettway and pinch-runner Tyler DeRossette for a 5-1 lead.

Chris Compton took the loss, giving up eight runs on nine hits. He struck out seven.

Sanduan Dubose, considered one of the top hitters in the state, went 1-for-4 with a single and struck out twice.

The Vikings will face Oxford Friday at 7 p.m. at Pearl.