Miss. Valley, La. Tech hope for many happy returns

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Sid Beauman, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation, in the stands at Bazinsky Field while Mississippi Valley and Louisiana Tech play behind him. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[04/11/01] Baseball purists may not have liked Louisiana Tech’s wild 15-9 win over Mississippi Valley State Tuesday night at Bazinsky Field, but both coaches and Vicksburg Parks and Recreation director Sid Beauman loved what they saw.

On a night when all of the local high school teams were playing out of town, about 150 people attended the first college baseball game in Bazinsky Field since 1997. The turnout, coupled with the facilities, had everyone involved with bringing the game to Vicksburg talking about a return engagement.

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“We’d definitely come back. We’ve got it in the plans. It’s an easy drive for us and we’ve got a lot of alumni in this area,” said Tech coach Jeff Richardson, whose team collected 17 hits in the win.

Tech (16-15) second baseman Craig Montgomery went 5-for-5 with four singles and an RBI double, and first baseman Tim Meadows hit a three-run homer as the Bulldogs opened a 9-2 lead and held off a late Delta Devil rally.

Forrest Hudson, Derrick Thomas and Tyshon Rogers each had two hits and two RBIs for Valley (9-22).

First-year Valley coach Doug Shanks, who is trying to extend the reach of his program by playing games in towns across Mississippi as well as in Itta Bena, said he was looking forward to playing another game in Vicksburg.

“What we’re going to do, Louisiana Tech and I, is try and make this an annual meeting place for us, and we’re going to try and open the season here next year. Try to make it a big deal,” Shanks said. “It’s a great field and the turnout was good. All of the high schools were out of town today, which I thought was terrible timing for us.”

Beauman was hopeful that Tuesday’s game was the start of a series of college games most of them featuring Valley that may culminate in the 2003 Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament. Beauman said the city put in a bid to host the tournament this year and in 2002, but lost out to Shreveport.

“We felt like we put in a pretty good bid this time. From my understanding, the financial part of it was more than what Shreveport offered as far as cash. We haven’t seen their bid. Apparently they had a few more amenities in it,” Beauman said.

If attempts to bring the 2003 and 2004 tournaments to Vicksburg are successful host cities for 2003 and 2004 will be selected in the fall of 2002 the city would also host the SWAC golf, tennis, softball and track and field tournaments, bringing more than 700 athletes to the city.

“It’s perfect. I mean, it’s so close to all the schools in the SWAC, it makes plenty of sense. It makes no sense to me for us to go to Shreveport,” Shanks said.

More immediate plans call for Tech and Valley to play next February, in the state’s first college baseball game of 2002.

Other events surrounding the game would include an alumni get-together and a parade.

“If it becomes an annual deal, I believe, talking to Coach Shanks, that he wants to see the Valley alumni get involved in it. Probably have an alumni meeting and maybe even a parade down here. That would fall sometime in February and create a lot more interest,” Beauman said.

Shanks and Beauman were also trying to convince Alcorn State coach Willie “Rat” McGowan to play a game or a series against Valley at Bazinsky Field.

“If we can ever get to the point of Alcorn and Valley playing here, halfway between both schools, it could be huge, economically, as well as for baseball,” Beauman said.

Shanks was enthusiastic about the idea, and said all it would take to make it happen is McGowan’s go-ahead.

“That would be a natural,” Shanks said. “What I said to him is let’s take some of your games and take some of our games and we’ll play a big series down here. Make it fun for the alumni, bring the bands, the whole bit. If we had Alcorn’s band and Valley’s band here, we’d have a thousand folks here, I guarantee you.”