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Gators scrap way past Clinton; Brown saves day

[04/16/01] By most standards, Vicksburg High had no right winning Saturday’s game against Clinton.

The Gators had only two hits an infield single and a bloop double, both by J.J. Brown hit just three balls out of the infield and committed five errors.

Luckily for the Gators, Clinton was even wilder and sloppier.

Clinton pitchers surrendered seven walks, hit three batters and allowed the Gators to bat around in the fourth inning despite getting only one hit. It all added up to a 6-2 VHS win.

“We should have stayed home today,” said Clinton coach Hugh Christian, whose team will take on defending Class 5A champion Southaven in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday.

Paul Gorney drove in two runs, and Bob Berry scattered five hits and allowed no earned runs to get the win.

“It’s real deceiving, this victory, for the simple reason that we had a lot of productive outs. Moving the runner over, sacrifice flies, that sort of thing,” said VHS coach Jamie Creel, who beat his alma mater for the fourth straight time. “I’m just proud we scratched out a victory here. It’s a big win for us.”

The Gators (23-6) scratched and clawed all day, taking advantage of the opportunities Clinton (13-13) gave them.

VHS took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on two walks and an RBI fielder’s choice by John Rohrer and extended it to 2-0 an inning later on two walks, Brown’s single to deep shortstop and a sacrifice fly by Gorney.

Clinton loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fourth, but managed just one run on a bases-loaded double play. In the bottom of the inning, the wheels came off for the Arrows as the arms seemed to fall off of their pitchers.

Josh McBride reached on a two-out error and Justin Henry followed with a four-pitch walk. Brown then blooped a double to right to score McBride and make it 3-1, and Clinton starter Mike Cashion suddenly lost his ability to find the strike zone.

He walked VHS catcher Mitchell Beauman to load the bases, then hit designated hitter Ryan Grey and Gorney to force in two runs before giving way to reliever Clay Keith.

Keith walked David Stagg to force in another run and give VHS a 6-1 lead before striking out Rohrer to end the inning.

“They pitched pretty good, but just could never adjust to the strike zone,” Christian said.

Clinton mounted a rally in the sixth inning, but a stellar play by Brown thwarted the threat.

Arrow first baseman Brent Gary led off with a single and later scored on a throwing error on a potential double play to cut it to 6-2. With a runner on first, Clinton catcher Justin Laxson drove a deep fly ball to center. It was over Brown’s head, but he made a backward diving catch at the warning track to haul it in, then fired to first to double up the runner and end the inning.

Vicksburg (23-6) will travel to face Tupelo in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday, and Creel said the Gators expect to add to their win total.

“I did. A lot of other people probably didn’t,” Creel said when asked if he thought his team would win 23 games.

“From day one, this team believed in themselves and had a lot of faith, and I’m really proud of them. Hopefully, we’re not done yet.”