Vicksburg’s bats wake up too late at Tupelo, lose 8-5

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2001

[04/20/01] TUPELO Mac Godwin’s left arm and silent Vicksburg bats have the Gators (23-7) fighting for their playoff lives.

The Tupelo senior tossed a complete game, allowing five runs on five hits in beating VHS, 8-5, in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Game 2 in the best-of-three series is Friday night at 6:30 at Bazinsky Field. Vicksburg must win to force a deciding game in Tupelo on Saturday.

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“I had a lot of adrenaline flowing and my arm felt good warming up,” said Godwin, who improved to 7-1. “That built up my confidence. I felt like I was going to come in and shut them down.”

For four innings, the Tupelo (26-4) lefty had the Gators mixed up with a biting curveball. The Gators, who were led by Mitchell Beauman’s home run, single and three RBIs, did not break through on the scoreboard until the fifth inning and were already trailing 6-0.

“For three or four innings, there was no question about it, (Godwin) had us handcuffed,” said VHS coach Jamie Creel, whose team lost in their first game in last year’s playoffs before beating Horn Lake at Bazinsky. “… It was a bad job on my part, though, of preparing this team. We were too loose to come out here and play this type of game. I really expect us to bounce back (Friday).”

Justin Henry’s two-out, two-RBI double to left-center scored John Rohrer and Corey Hudson. After J.J. Brown was intentionally walked, Beauman hit a dribbler to third base, but the speedy Brown beat the throw to second to keep the inning alive. Henry came all the way around to score from second to cut the Golden Wave’s lead in half, 6-3.

“We came out a little flat early, but I think toward the end of the game, we were able to get some momentum,” Henry said. “We need for that momentum to carry over to (today).”

Creel said the Gators will throw a right-hander Friday, more than likely Chris Middleton or Henry. On Thursday, the Gators used three pitchers.

Beauman (6-2) allowed six runs five of them earned in three innings of work before being relieved by freshman Justin Boler.

Boler intentionally walked Kevin Caldwell to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, then got out of the jam with just one Tupelo run scoring.

“(Boler) is battle-tested and he has pitched in some big games. This was nothing for him,” Creel said.

Bob Berry replaced Boler after one inning and after blanking Tupelo in the fifth, he walked four and gave up an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to extend the Wave’s lead to 8-3.

“I really thought we hit the ball well and we defended well,” said Tupelo coach Larry Harmon, who has guided the Wave to two state championships. “We do have to play a lot better (today), though, to win on the road. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

Brown drew a two-out walk in the top of the seventh and Beauman connected on a “curveball that stayed up in his eyes,” Godwin said, for a two-run home run to pull VHS within three.

“(Godwin) struggled at times, but made some big pitches to get out of a couple big innings,” Harmon said.

Ryan Grey then reached on an error, but was forced at second base on the next hitter to end the game.

Godwin finished with 12 strikeouts eight in the first two innings and the Tupelo offense scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a two-RBI single by Derek Warren. Eight of the nine starters got at least one hit for the Wave.

“We put a two-spot up in the first and you go out there with a two-run lead, and you can make some mistakes,” Godwin said.

Tupelo added single runs in the second and third and added two in the bottom of the fourth. Davis Bond, who played youth ball for Culkin, had an RBI triple, then scored on a fly out to center.

“We didn’t really play at first, but before the game was over, we brought our game,” Beauman said. “We know we can play with them and we know its all in us. It’s in our hands and our house and we’re going to do what we can do.”