Rain stays away for Vicksburg’s first win: Price is right for VHS

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2003

Vicksburg High’s Steven Price is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Riverside on Friday. Below, VHS first baseman Paul Gorney tags out Patrick Rainwater at first base in the top of the fourth inning. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[3/1/03]Steven Price made his first varsity start one to remember.

The Vicksburg High freshman held Riverside to three hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings, and did even more damage at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a home run and six RBIs to lead the Gators to a 10-2 victory in their season-opener.

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Matt Middleton and Sean McGowan also drove in runs for Vicksburg, which blew the game open by scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“Steven is going to be a good one. I’m looking for some big things out of him in the next four years,” Vicksburg coach Jamie Creel said. “That changeup he had was just nasty.”

His bat wasn’t bad, either.

After the Gators left a runner at third base in the first inning and the bases loaded in the second, Price put VHS ahead 1-0 in the third with an RBI groundout.

He came up again in the fifth with runners on second and third with two outs, and belted a full-count fastball over the left field wall to increase the lead to 4-0.

“I just saw the ball had left, and I started running,” Price said of the homer. “I was looking for some runs. It was too close of a game.”

On the mound, Price was in control throughout the game. He didn’t allow a ball out of the infield until the fifth inning, when Riverside catcher Ryan Wolfe led off with a single, and he struck out eight while walking none.

The Gators’ slow start at the plate, however, allowed Riverside to keep it close. Jay Schroeder kept Vicksburg in check through the first five innings, allowing five hits and striking out eight.

Riverside finally got to Price in the top of the sixth when Patrick Rainwater drove in two runs with a two-out single, cutting it to 4-2.

Then, in the bottom of the inning, the Bulldogs fell apart. Three errors and two hit batters opened the floodgates for Vicksburg.

After Matt Middleton delivered an RBI triple to right center to make it 5-2, Rainwater relieved Schroeder and intentionally walked Justin Henry. The move backfired when Rainwater hit the next two batters. Paul Gorney then lifted a fly ball to center that was dropped, allowing a run to score, and Price drove in two more runs with a single to right to make it 9-2. McGowan capped the inning with an RBI single.

“We’re in the game. It’s 4-2, and then we make a couple of errors and let it get away from us,” Riverside coach Boo Ellis said.

Price got the first two outs in the top of the seventh, but didn’t get the chance for a complete game. Creel had Price on a strict 80-pitch limit, and pulled the freshman with a 1-1 count on Riverside center fielder Phillip Hardin.

Avery Mathes relieved Price, and got Hardin to ground back to the mound with the first pitch he threw to end the game.

“Kids do not understand the vitalness of a pitch count at that stage. He’ll appreciate what I did for him … If he had two strikes on him, I’d have pulled him out,” Creel said. “No game is as important as any kid’s future. That’s just the bottom line on that issue.”