Public schools rule the roost against MPSA

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 17, 2002

John Morgan Mims of Warren Central takes a cut during the MHSAA-MPSA All-Star game on Saturday in Jackson. Mims’ public school teammates downed the private school all-stars, 5-4, in 10 innings.(The Vicksburg Post/JON GIFFIN)

[06/16/02]JACKSON As Warren Central’s Brian Pettway sat on deck in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday at Smith-Wills Stadium, waiting for his turn to end the first MHSAA-MPSA All-Star game, he couldn’t help but think back to a week before.

Swinging the bat as Oak Grove’s Marc Maddox, a Southern Miss signee, settled into the box, thoughts of the 17-inning marathon called the MHSAA Class 4A/5A All-Star game wandered through his head along with a few about this game.

Could this one go on as long? Would he get a chance to be this game’s hero?

Suddenly, the sound of the ball meeting Maddox’s bat and the dull thump of cowhide on the second level of the wooden billboards in right field signaled the end of Pettway’s daydream, as well as the game.

Maddox hit a walk-off solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, giving the 4A/5A all-stars a come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the MPSA Academy AAA/AAAA all-stars.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t. Thank God it didn’t,” Pettway said of the game’s length.

Pettway, who played the entire game, went 0-for-2 with two flyouts and two walks. He also scored a run in the sixth inning as the public school stars rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win.

He had his chance to win the game when he led off the eighth inning, but skied a harmless fly to right field.

“I was trying to (homer), but I went down two strikes and just tried to get a hit and missed,” said Pettway, an Ole Miss signee who hit 16 home runs for WC this season.

Warren County’s other all-stars, WC’s John Morgan Mims and Vicksburg High’s J.J. Brown, also had their turns at the plate in extra innings but came up empty. Mims, who played the first three innings in right field and returned in the sixth, struck out twice in the last three innings. The last time resulted in the second out in the 10th and set the stage for Maddox’s heroics.

Despite the tough afternoon Mims went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts he said the game was a fun experience.

“It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it, being around all the boys one last time,” Mims said.

Brown, meanwhile, flied out to right to start the 10th, but collected two hits early on with a single and a double and played a crucial part in tying the game.

With the MHSAA trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Brown grounded out to the pitcher. It allowed Quitman’s Matthew Creighton to move to third base with the tying run, and Creighton later scored it on a wild pitch.

“It was fun. I was just hoping we didn’t go as long as we did last week,” Brown said with a laugh.

Brown was also solid in the field, starting in center field before moving to second base in the fourth inning. Brown played second for the first time in the all-Star game last week, but looked like an old pro on Saturday.

He made one error and was the victim of a bad-hop single, but more than made up for it on several other plays. Brown and Pettway, who started the game at first base and moved to shortstop in the fourth inning, turned two double plays and Brown handled two other chances cleanly.

Both Brown and Pettway, archrivals for so long at VHS and WC, said it was strange to work together in their final high school game.

“It was weird, but it feels good playing with him. You know you’ve got somebody who’s going to go 110 percent out there every time he touches the ball,” said Brown, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the major league draft but has yet to sign a contract.

Brown led off the bottom of the first with a single, but that was all the MHSAA all-stars could manage against Hillcrest Christian’s Stephen Head. Brown was caught stealing and Head retired the next eight batters in order.

The only other ball the MHSAA stars hit out of the infield off of Head was Pettway’s flyout to the warning track in left to lead off the second inning.

“He was throwing good. His ball was moving good,” Pettway said.

The MPSA stars, meanwhile, roughed up Creighton for three runs in the first three innings. Head had an RBI single as the MPSA tallied two runs in the first, and Parklane Academy’s Kyle Ginn and Hillcrest’s Jarrett England each added RBI doubles to extend the lead to 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

Creighton atoned for his poor outing on the mound, however, cutting the lead in half with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth and doubling before scoring the tying run in the seventh.

“Our kids never had any doubt. When we scored two in the fifth, I think that kind of woke them up,” said MHSAA coach Danny Carlisle of Starkville.

The MHSAA cut it to 4-3 in the sixth when Pettway walked, went to third on a single by MHSAA MVP Van Pope of Terry, and scored when the throw to third went into the third-base dugout.

While the MHSAA stars rallied, Pope shut down the MPSA team. He threw seven innings, scattering five hits while allowing only one run and striking out six. He also went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Joseph McCaskill of Jackson Academy earned MVP honors for the MPSA, going 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored.

Despite the loss, Head said the MPSA all-stars proved they could play with the public schools.

“I don’t think many people thought we could do what we did. We’ve got just as much good players as they’ve got, and we showed it today,” Head said. “I thought both teams played well. It was a good high school baseball game.”