VHS crushes Clinton, wins tournament title

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 26, 2001

Chris Middleton of VHS follows through during his five-inning no-hitter at Raymond Saturday. (The Vicksburg Post/MARK THORNTON)

[02/26/01] JACKSON Justin Henry had the big hit for Vicksburg High Saturday, then shut down Clinton’s big sticks.

Henry hit a two-RBI single in the top of the fourth, then pitched four shutout innings as the Gators (6-0) upended perennial power Clinton, 7-2, to win the Forest Hill Tournament championship.

Henry gave up just two hits and struck out three. He coaxed a ground ball double play by Kyle Cunningham to end the game.

“My defense played great for me and they backed me up on everything,” said Henry, who was pitching his first game since basketball season ended. “You have to give them a hand because they helped me out a bunch.”

The Gators were error-free and allowed just a pair of runs in the third inning on back-to-back-to-back doubles by Cunningham, Luke Sandroni and Brent Gary. Those hits came off freshman Justin Boler, who tossed three innings and gave up six hits.

“We had a few guys hit the ball hard, but we didn’t all do it,” said Clinton coach Hugh Christian, whose Arrows (3-4) took their fourth loss of the week. “We hit the ball, but they made the plays and that makes a big difference.”

J.J. Brown paced Vicksburg’s offense with two triples, a single and three runs scored. The lone out he made was a shot to center field into a stiff breeze that was caught just shy of the fence.

Boo Hardy had a pair of singles, while Ryan Grey had a single and two RBIs. Grey, hitting behind Brown, hit a groundout in the first to score Brown, then singled in the top of the third to score Brown again and give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

“I was pleased with the way we swung the bat,” said Vicksburg coach Jamie Creel, who played at Clinton.

The Gators battered four Clinton pitchers for eight hits.

“… J.J. had four triples today and got things going for us,” Creel said. “He’s a big-time player and he did a great job today, as well as everyone else.”

After Clinton tied the game in the third, Henry’s single past shortstop Josh Jordan scored David Stagg and Ben Shelton for a 4-2 lead.

The Gators added three runs in the top of the seventh on four walks, a Brown single, a hit batter and two wild pitches.

“Just the name Clinton’ on the front of their jerseys, you know they’re going to be good,” Henry said. “We came out here ready to play and brought the championship back to Vicksburg.”

VHS 9, Raymond 0

RAYMOND The Gators’ first game Saturday had even less suspense than the title game.

Paul Gorney belted a single, double and had five RBIs and Chris Middleton (2-0) pitched a five-inning no-hitter in the blowout of the Rangers.

“It was a good day for me to come through,” Gorney said. “The first few games, I had only one hit and I felt I needed to come through.”

Gorney’s first-inning, bases-loaded double scored Henry, Brown and Grey for the early 3-0 lead, but Vicksburg was far from done.

Brown tripled with two outs in the second and Grey’s single scored him for a 4-0 lead. Grey scored on an infield error.

Gorney’s two-RBI single in the fourth, followed by an RBI walk by Corey Hudson and an RBI hit by pitch by Hardy, gave Vicksburg a 9-0 lead going into the fifth.

The tournament had a seven-run mercy rule after five innings.

Middleton walked two Rangers and faced just one batter over the minimum over five innings.

Vicksburg will face its toughest test of the young season Tuesday when second-ranked Madison Central comes to town in the first home game for the Gators. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at Bazinsky Field.