Vikings bounce back, conquer Conquistadors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2002

Mark Different of WC gets tagged by Olive Branch’s Nick Gardnee after getting caught in a rundown in the second.(The Vicksburg Post/MARK THORNTON)

[03/14/02]Andrew Simmons admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff Wednesday, but he wasn’t complaining about the results.

Simmons scattered nine hits and allowed one run through six innings as the seventh-ranked Vikings (11-3) beat Olive Branch, 6-3, in the Madison Central Big Blue Classic.

“He did a nice job,” said Olive Branch coach Jeff Munier, who was ejected in the third inning for arguing with the first-base umpire, but was somehow let back into the game to finish coaching. “I thought we hit him hard, we just hit it at people.”

With Warren Central scheduled to play three more games this week, Simmons (4-0) was expected to throw a lot of innings. He started the game with two straight wild pitches one bounced over the backstop but got out of a shaky first inning with only one hit.

“I didn’t have my stuff today,” said Simmons, a junior. “I got it across the plate and let my defense play behind me.”

WC committed a pair of errors, but the Conquistadors (8-6) stranded nine runners.

Simmons threw into the seventh with WC holding a 6-1 lead before Olive Branch loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks. Max London scored on a Nick Olivent single to chase Simmons.

Closer John Morgan Mims came on, walked the first batter he faced for another Olive Branch run, but got Mickey Smith to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

“Today was huge for us,” said first-year WC coach Randy Broome, who had his team do extra running after WC’s second straight loss on Monday. “That is a very good team over there. Andrew gave us everything he had, but ran out of juice.

“John Morgan is getting better every time he gets out there.”

Joey Lieberman gave WC an early lead after singling and scoring on a Carl Upton single that got past Olive Branch right fielder Michael Dowdy.

WC increased the lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth on Brian Pettway’s fifth home run of the year. It was the 27th home run of the Ole Miss signee’s career.

“We hit the ball a lot better today,” said Pettway, who’s entered the game hitting .522. “We just have to keep playing good defense.”

WC had eight hits and took advantage of four Olive Branch errors.

Lieberman had a single, double and an RBI, while Upton had two doubles, a single and an RBI and Jeff Mitchell had a double.

Back-to-back doubles by Lieberman and Upton in the sixth scored Pettway and Lieberman as WC took a 4-1 lead. The Conquistadors scored one in the fifth on a pair of hits and an error.

Mitchell’s double, coupled with an Olive Branch error and a walk, gave WC two more and a 6-1 lead.

“Even today, we didn’t play as good as we can, but all the guys are hanging in there and they are determined,” Broome said. “… We have to continue to get better.”