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Gators survive sloppy defense, blast Whippets

[03/15/01] MADISON Vicksburg High snapped its losing streak Wednesday, but the defensive woes continued.

The Gators (7-3), who had lost three in a row, survived eight errors to beat Kosciusko, 13-4, in the Madison Central Tournament.

Justin Henry struck out nine, walked two and allowed just three hits in the complete-game win. He also had a run-scoring double for VHS, which pounded out nine hits and took advantage of seven errors and five walks by the Whippets (4-7).

“I told them before the game that everyone has to want the ball hit to them, and right now, I don’t think anyone wants the ball hit to them,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said.

Still, he was pleased with the improvement at the plate.

“If we keep that aggressiveness, we will be OK,” he said. “We just can’t sit back.”

Henry was another bright spot for the Gators.

“That’s what we expected of him,” Creel said of Henry, who had a rough outing against Northwest Rankin on Saturday.

“If he throws like that, he’ll be tough to beat.”

Pete Atwood, who didn’t make it out of the first inning, took the loss. Atwood, Taylor Casey and Grant Myrick combined to strike out six and walk five.

While the Gators are searching for answers to their defensive problems, Kosciusko coach Kevin Pullen is more worried about his offense.

“We just haven’t been hitting the ball against anybody,” said Pullen, whose team has lost to powerhouses Tupelo and New Hope.

“I don’t know what the problem is.”

For VHS, J.J. Brown went 2-for-4 with a double and was robbed of a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Kosciusko center fielder Andr Truss pulled the ball from over the fence at the 360-foot mark in left-center.

John Rohrer also had a pair of hits and an RBI while Mitchell Beauman, Josh McBride and Paul Gorney also drove in runs.

A couple of Whippet errors helped the Gators take a quick 3-0 lead. VHS returned the favor in the bottom of the first with a pair of boots to allow one run.

But the Gators seemed to settle down after that. They turned double plays to get out of jams in the third and fourth innings and Henry struck out two in a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

Then, just like in Tuesday’s loss to Bolton, Tenn. when VHS gave up nine runs in one error-filled inning the Gators committed four errors to let Kosciusko score three and pull within 8-4 on only one hit, Destin Moore’s RBI single.

“It’s like we have certain innings, it all starts and we can’t stop (making errors),” Henry said. “Our defense is a lot better than we’ve shown lately. We’ve got to get through it … I don’t know how.”

Creel’s not sure either. But he’s confident that the bad streak will end soon, just like it did after a similar spell last year. The Gators bounced back to make the playoffs and become the only team in Warren County to win a postseason contest.

“Sometimes you just have games like that, and you can’t explain it,” Creel said. “It happens … we’ll be OK.”

The Gators will host Riverside at 1 p.m. and Provine at 4 on Friday.