WC’s Tank blanks Starkville, 1-0

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2001

Brian Pettway, with his eye swollen shut, waits on deck just before doubling in WC’s only run. (The Vicksburg Post/MARK THORNTON)

[04/20/01] Even with just one eye and one arm, Brian Pettway was better than his teammates on Thursday.

Pettway, whose right eye was swollen shut after taking a ball in the eye just before the game, hit an RBI double in the first inning and Taylor “The Tank” Tankersley made the 1-0 lead stick as Warren Central beat Starkville in the opening game of the state playoffs.

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“All I ask for is one run,” said Tankersley (10-0), who struck out 13 and walked one in his eighth straight shutout.

But WC coach Sam Temple would like a few more runs.

“We’ve got to find our offensive identity again,” said Temple, whose team lost its last two games of the regular season after an 18-game winning streak. “We were fortunate to have number 40 on the mound.”

The Vikings (29-3) can wrap up the first-round series tonight at Starkville (14-14). If they lose, the series will return to WC for a deciding game on Saturday.

Tankersley walked the leadoff batter, then struck out eight of the next nine. He allowed three singles, two of which didn’t leave the infield. Jeremy Milons’ single to right was the only ball the Yellowjackets hit to the outfield.

“We didn’t swing the bats as well as we can, but (Tankersley) had a lot to do with that,” said Starkville coach Danny Carlisle, who got in the umpire’s face in the fifth inning and drew a warning for arguing balls and strikes. “We just got into a guessing game with (Tankersley) … He threw an outstanding game.”

Starkville left-hander Prentiss McLaurin struck out four and gave up just four hits, two to Pettway.

“Pretty good for a one-eyed batter,” Temple said, adding that he nearly replaced him. “He showed a lot of courage. He wanted in that lineup.”

Pettway, who injured his ankle last month, was questionable for the game with a sore elbow before getting the OK to play from his doctor on Monday.

“(The elbow) felt OK” in the batting cage before the game, Pettway said. But during warm-ups, a ball “took a bad hop and just smoked me,” he said.

Pettway was used as a DH.

“I hope that the bad luck is over now,” he said, holding ice on his right eye. “It’s gone from my feet to my head.”

Kevin Coker drew a leadoff walk, then scored when Pettway yanked a double up the third-base line.

“It was a change-up,” Pettway said. “I could see the ball OK. If it would have been my left eye, I wouldn’t have been able to play.”

Both teams missed opportunities.

WC’s Joey Lieberman led off the fourth inning with a double, but was thrown out at third trying to advance on a passed ball.

Starkville’s Tee Milons, who drew a leadoff walk in the first, wound up at third with no outs after an errant throw to second on a steal attempt. But Tankersley struck out the next two and got a groundout to end the inning and keep his streak of scoreless innings alive.

After he struck out the side in the second and third, he gave up back-to-back singles to start the fourth. But he picked off Jeremy Milons at second, then got Dustin Rhodes to hit into double play.

“Those two plays were the difference,” Carlisle said.

Temple said he hopes his team hits better for Carl Upton (8-1), who will get the start Friday.

“Our whole goal was to not hit the ball in the air,” said Temple, whose team had nine flyouts and two groundouts. “If we’re going to take this thing to the end, we have to show up every day.”