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WC breaks slump, KOs Starkville

[04/23/01] STARKVILLE — Carl Upton made sure the stress that surrounded Warren Central’s game 1 win did not play a role in Game 2.

The junior right-hander pitched a five-inning complete game and had a single, double, home run and three RBIs to lead the Vikings (30-3) to a 13-1 drubbing of Starkville in five innings and a place in the second round of the playoffs. It will be WC’s first trip to the second round in two years.

Upton’s first inning, two-RBI single gave the visitors a 2-0 lead and they cruised from there. Starkville (14-15) managed just four hits two in the first inning against Upton, who also struck out three.

“It feels great to win this game,” Upton said. “We got out there and fought.”

John Morgan Mims had a two-RBI double, while Taylor Tankersley had three RBIs on two hits, Joey Lieberman had two singles and an RBI and Brian Pettway had an RBI single.

The Vikings, who had been in a week-long hitting slump, had 12 hits against Josh Bost.

“This has been a very productive offensive team all year,” WC coach Sam Temple said. “… We went up there in the first couple innings and some guys had some good at-bats and hit the ball hard. I believe hitting is contagious and it was contagious tonight.”

Starkville was led by Brent Patton’s second-inning double. Three other players had one hit apiece for the Yellowjackets (14-15).

After watching their lead shrink in the first inning to 2-1, the Vikings scored three in the top of the second on RBI singles by Tankersley and Lieberman and three Starkville errors.

The Yellowjackets committed six errors on the night.

“We got a lot of ground balls, but we kicked them around,” Starkville coach Danny Carlisle said. “We just quit swinging the bats for some reason.”

Upton got out of several jams.

“Their pitchers had a lot to do with it in both games,” said Carlisle, whose team was shut out 1-0 by Tankersley on Friday. “Good pitching’s gonna stop good hitting.”

Bost wasn’t as blessed with offensive support as Upton.

An RBI groundout by Pettway coupled with two walks and two wild pitches allowed Mims, Kyle Simmons, Kevin Coker and Tankersley to score in the third as WC built a 9-1 lead.

Tankersley’s two-RBI single in the fourth led to three WC runs and a 12-1 lead after the fourth. The Yellowjackets committed at least one error in every inning except the fourth.

“We got relaxed and came up here and had a good time,” said Coker, who toured Dudy-Noble Field at Mississippi State with teammates before the game. “We played Viking ball and that is to get a lot of hits, score a lot of runs and knock a few around.”

If history is a guide, the Vikings’ offense will be put to the test in the second round against No. 7 Madison Central. WC has beaten Madison, 1-0 on two shutouts by Tankersley. Game 1 of the best-of-three series will be Thursday at Warren Central.

“Madison Central is a high-caliber team with high-caliber ballplayers,” Temple said. “We’ll just chalk the white lines and play baseball like we like to. We want to get it on and go to war. That is our motto: every game we want to come out and go to war.”