Vikings start second round with Tupelo again

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 26, 2002

[04/26/02]It’s the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, so Warren Central must be playing Tupelo.

For the third time in four years, the Vikings (24-8) and Golden Wave (25-10) will tangle in a best-of-three series starting tonight at Viking Field.

“We know most of the guys on their team,” said Vikings’ right fielder John Morgan Mims, a teammate of several Tupelo players on a select team last summer. “I talked to some of them earlier in the week, and they are as excited about playing us as we are about playing them.”

Mims didn’t get any inside information except the Wave’s expected pitching rotation. Tupelo ace Sparky Smith (7-1) is scheduled to get the nod in the opener against Carl Upton (8-4).

Brian Pettway and Andrew Simmons, both nursing sore arms, will cap the Vikings’ rotation.

“Brian feels good and we got a good report on Andrew,” Broome said. “Carl’s going to start and after that, we’ll see.”

Tonight’s first game may seem different than most of the previous matchups. The Vikings don’t have a dominant left-handed pitcher like they had the last three times, while Tupelo’s normally potent offense has struggled.

The Wave beat Olive Branch in their best-of-three series, while Warren Central needed three games to beat Northwest Rankin.

“Word of mouth is that they are not the usual hitting squad we’ve seen in the past,” said WC coach Randy Broome, whose team has not played Tupelo this year. “They also don’t have the speed they’ve had in the past. They do have good pitching and that’s what’s carried them.”

While Tupelo’s power is not what it is usually, such can not be said about Warren Central. The Vikings, led by Brian Pettway’s 16 home runs, lead Class 5A with 39 round-trippers.

The Vikings hit three home runs in the deciding third game against Northwest Rankin after dropping an eight-inning thriller one day earlier.

“We played an errorless game and that helped our confidence,” Mims said. “Hopefully that will carry over and we’ll win this series, too.”

Broome said fans should get their money’s worth.

“It should be a good one,” Broome said. “They are here every year and (Larry) Harmon is a great coach. Their program is very well respected around the state.

“They put us out when I was at Vicksburg and I know one other time they put us out. But we got them last year. Hopefully that tradition continues.”