Vikings crush Clinton, 13-6

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 22, 2002

[03/20/02]CLINTON Hitting home runs is nothing new to Warren Central’s Brian Pettway and John Morgan Mims. But when leadoff man Chris Hite hit one out in the third inning, the Vikings knew it was their night.

Those three seniors, the top of WC’s order, combined for five home runs all with two outs and went 8-for-14 to crush No. 3 Clinton, 13-6, and take the early Division 4-5A lead.

The Arrows (13-2, 2-1 in 4-5A), led by ex-WC coach Sam Temple, had won five in a row.

Pettway and Mims hit two homers apiece, including back-to-back shots in the seventh inning, as the No. 6 Vikings (15-4, 3-0) blew open a 3-1 lead with 10 runs in the last two innings.

“We got some senior leadership out there not talking, but on the field, producing,” said WC coach Randy Broome, whose team bounced back from a slump early last week to crank out 46 hits in its last three games, all wins.

Broome, who was an assistant to Temple last year when WC won the Class 5A state championship, said it was “definitely” the biggest win of his short career as a head coach.

Still, he didn’t want to celebrate too much not yet. Division 4-5A teams play three times this year instead of two, and WC goes to archrival Vicksburg High on Friday.

“Clinton is by no means out of this race, and neither is Vicksburg,” he said. “It’s too early to celebrate.”

Since Saturday, Broome emphasized to his players to ignore the hoopla surrounding their first game against their former coach. He was proud of how they listened.

“We were focused on our job tonight,” he said.

The players did admit they had a little extra motivation, though.

“I was pumped,” said the soft-spoken Pettway, who went 4-for-4 and pitched the final two innings. “I was ready to play when I went to school this morning.”

Mims, who also had a double while going 3-for-5, hit a grand slam in the sixth and followed with a two-run shot in his last at-bat.

“For us to come out in the biggest game of the year and play like that … it was great,” said Mims, whose homers went to center. “We were a little more intense than usual.”

Even after the Pettway-Mims power display, the WC players and fans were still buzzing about Hite’s homer, a two-out solo shot to left field in the third inning that gave the Vikings a 2-1 lead.

“The last time I hit one … I was 14,” Hite said. “That was my first one in high school.”

Carl Upton (4-2) took a two-hitter into the sixth inning, striking out five and walking one in five innings.

Trailing 9-1, the Arrows strung together five hits in the sixth to pull within four, 9-5, before Pettway came in and shut them down.

“I’m proud of the fight we showed,” Temple said. “A lot of things didn’t go our way, but we came back swinging.

“We don’t need to have our lips poked out; we hit a good pitcher pretty hard there for a while.”

Broome said the Arrows started picking up WC’s pitching signs.

“We’ve got the same type system,” he said. “We’ll change some things up before next time.”

The Arrows, meanwhile, had Temple and one of his four assistants sending in signs to the catcher simultaneously, using one of them as a decoy.

Still, the Vikings kept up their torrid hitting pace with 15 more.

“What do you do against Brian Pettway?” Temple asked rhetorically. “He’s just in a zone right now.”

Pettway has 10 homers on the year, seven in his last seven games.

On defense, WC had three errors, two in the second inning. The first opened the door for Tim O’Hara’s RBI double that tied it, 1-1, but his courtesy runner, Kevin Hendrix, was gunned down at the plate by first baseman Jeremy Ferguson after trying to score on the second error.

Hite put WC back on top in the third, and Jeff Mitchell tacked on another run in the fifth after scoring from second on a passed ball. Mitchell, who went 2-for-3, led off with a bloop single, then advanced on an errant pickoff attempt.

Clinton starter Mike Cashion (4-1), who took his first loss, kept it close until the sixth, when Upton reached on an error to lead off the inning.

Reliever Josh Jordan, who had given up just two hits in 10 innings this season, took over after WC’s Tom Corbin singled. Andrew Simmons got a bases-loaded RBI single, but Jordan got a force out at home for the second out. That’s when Mims hit his grand slam to turn a 4-1 game into an 8-1 game.

“That one set the tempo,” Broome said. “That was huge.”

Joey Lieberman followed with a run-scoring double to the wall in left to make it 9-1.

But Clinton came back. T.J. Boler hit a two-run double, and Chris Duncan followed with an RBI double. The Arrows made it 9-5 on an error by Ferguson, who had just replaced Pettway at third. He made up for the miscue by snagging O’Hara’s hot shot to the hot corner and stepping on third for a double play to get out of the inning with runners on first and third.

WC ended the home team’s comeback hopes in the seventh, when Ferguson led off with a double and Mitchell followed with an RBI single before Mims and Pettway’s blasts.

“I wouldn’t have ever thought it would be like this,” Broome said. “When it was 3-1, that’s how I thought it would end.”