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Pettway, Tankersley lift No. 1 Vikings over No. 7 Jags, 1-0

[04/02/01] MADISON Saturday’s marquee matchup between top-ranked Warren Central and No. 7 Madison Central turned into a baseball purist’s dream.

Brian Pettway hit a solo home run three batters into the game and Taylor Tankersley twirled his fourth-straight shutout as the Vikings (21-1) beat the Jaguars, 1-0. WC won the second game as well, an 11-1 thumping of Starkville.

Tankersley, who eclipsed the 100 strikeout plateau in just 54 innings, scattered three hits and was able to retire LSU signee Chamar McDonald with a strikeout, then got Mississippi State signee Brian Johnson to ground out to first to start the seventh inning.

After a walk, Tankersley coaxed a lazy fly ball to shortstop Joey Lieberman to end the game. The win marked the fifth over a ranked team this season.

“With Taylor on the mound, you don’t have a chance,” said Lieberman, who had one of the Vikings’ four hits. “We get on the bus and coach tells us Taylor’s pitching and everyone is so happy. He’s the best.”

Madison’s Rob Blackledge (3-1) matched the Alabama signee for most of the game, striking out three and retiring the last 13 Vikings he faced.

“The key to Rob being successful is him getting ahead of the hitters,” said Madison coach Mike Rosamand, whose team fell to 14-3. “He did that, for the most part, today and if he continues to do that, he’ll go a long way.”

The biggest mistake Blackledge made all game was an outside fastball that Pettway lofted into a strong breeze, just clearing the 345-foot sign in right centerfield.

“He had some wind, but I’ll tell you what, he doesn’t need any wind to hit it out,” said Blackledge, who played some fall baseball with the WC slugger. “He’s a great guy and a great hitter.”

After the home run, Brent Towne and Lieberman hit back-to-back singles, but Blackledge was able to get out of the jam trailing by just one run.

Madison had several chances, the best coming in the top of the second.

McDonald opened the inning with a screaming line-drive double, then moved to third on a balk call.

With one out, Rosamond called a squeeze play. But with McDonald charging, Mark Muzzi could not lay down the bunt and left McDonald hung out to dry. Catcher Kevin Coker tagged McDonald, then Tankersley fanned Muzzi to end the threat.

Two more times during the afternoon, the Jaguars botched a pair of bunt attempts and did not get a runner past second after McDonald’s out.

Madison threatened once more in the sixth, but with a runner on first and just one out, Lieberman lunged left to snag a sharply hit ground ball and get the force out at second base.

“That play was one of the keys to this ballgame,” WC coach Sam Temple said. “I thought another key was them not executing their short game like they should. They had two bunts in crucial situations that were popped up and we were able to get out of it.”

WC 11, Starkville 1

Carl Upton (6-0) and Pettway combined for a two-hitter in leading the Vikings past the Yellowjackets in a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game at Madison Central.

Upton struck out five and walked none through four innings before yielding to Pettway, who retired Starkville in order in the fifth to secure the win.

Pettway continued his torrid hitting with three singles and an RBI, while Towne and Jeff Mitchell had two hits apiece.

Lieberman belted a pair of doubles, a single and scored three runs and Kyle Simmons had a pair of RBIs.