Mudcats keep the big trophy’ in Vicksburg

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 5, 2002

Nicholas Carson of the Vicksburg Diamondbacks, right, slides into third base ahead of the tag of Greenwood’s Tyler Counts in the fourth inning of the 13-year-olds’ Governor’s Cup consolation game on Sunday. Carson was safe, but Greenwood won 6-5. Below, Darius Taylor of the Mississippi Mudcats holds up his first-place trophy after helping his team to the 7-year-olds’ championship. Looking on is teammate Matthew Jones.(The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[08/05/02]Revenge is a dish best served cold, but the Mudcats used a hot offense and a smothering defense to beat the Delta Giants 15-0 and claim the 7-year-olds’ Governor’s Cup title Sunday at Halls Ferry Park.

Matthew Jones won the offensive MVP award and scored three runs in the championship game, including the winning run in the top of the third. Cale Luke went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Matt Smith went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.

“They came out here ready to play,” said Mudcats coach Marshal Upton, whose team avenged an 11-10 loss to the Delta Giants earlier in the day. “I said, Do you want the big trophy or that little trophy? And they said, We want the big one.’ They light up every time they see a little piece of trophy.

“It feels a lot better than second place.”

The Mudcat players showed signs that their offense was back for the championship game even before the game was called on account of the mercy rule in the bottom of the third.

“(The Mudcats) hit a whole lot better this game than they did in the first game,” Giants coach Wade Turner said.

The Mudcats’ Upton had a different take on the early loss.

“The first game we dropped three or four balls, and they had some people on base and were able to knock them in,” he said. “This ball game we caught the ball and kept them from getting on base. We made plays.”

A game plan that seems to suit the Mudcats team fine, as defense proved to be the deciding factor in Sunday’s championship game.

“At this age kids love to swing a baseball bat,” Upton said. “But the one thing you can control in a baseball game is defense.”

But even as the Giants’ batting order fell three up, three down, their squad was still in the game in the bottom of the third until the Mudcats’ Cameron Upton hit a drive down the third-base line to close the curtain on Delta’s hopes for the big trophy.

“When they hit that long ball to the fence, that turned the game the wrong way for us,” Turner said.

With the offense and defense working on all cylinders, it was easy to overlook the secret to the Mudcats’ success, Upton said.

“You get them to compete against each other, you try to make them play games with each other,” he said. “Okay, who’s going to hit the ball farther, who’s going to catch the most balls.’ So it’s kind of like a game and they really get into it.”

Jones also scored two runs in the earlier loss to the Giants, as did Reed Luke.

Delta’s Jacob Wooley won the defensive MVP award in the 7-year-olds’ Governor’s Cup.

“These kids came out here ready to play,” Upton said. “If you can’t have fun and it’s not like playing in the backyard, they’re not going to perform. Their attention span is very short and you have to make it fun for them.”