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Southaven swamps VHS with big third inning

{04/26/03}SOUTHAVEN The Southaven Chargers delivered a third-inning uppercut that left the Vicksburg Gators dazed and confused.

Michael Robbins threw in the knockout blow.

Playing in the first second-round playoff series in school history, the Gators watched Southaven score 11 runs on 10 hits in a disastrous third inning of a 12-2 defeat in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.

Game two is scheduled for today at 7 p.m. at Bazinsky Field. A Vicksburg win means a deciding third game in Southaven on Monday.

“That was one of the longest innings I have ever been through in coaching, no doubt about it,” said Vicksburg coach Jamie Creel, who watched as Southaven sent 16 batters to the plate in the inning. “Usually we’re the ones giving those innings, but not tonight.”

After the outburst, a steady, cold rain began falling and Robbins retired the Gators (19-8) equally as fast. The game ended after the fifth inning because of the mercy rule.

“It was one of those innings where a few mistakes lead to that,” Vicksburg third baseman Matt Middleton said. “They got confident and started putting hits together. You can’t do anything about it.”

Vicksburg took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on Steven Price’s two-RBI double to dead center field that traveled an estimated 390 feet.

But Southaven (26-7) bounced right back and rocked Vicksburg pitcher Justin Boler. Two errors by a seasoned infield contributed to the outburst.

Michael Guerrero led off with a double and Boler, who had retired the first six Southaven batters in order, fielded a ground ball back to the pitcher. Instead of getting the out at first base, he tried to nail Guerrero at second and the ball sailed into center field.

Payton Tindell followed with an almost routine double-play grounder to Ole Miss signee Justin Henry, but the ball skipped into the outfield to load the bases for the Chargers’ best hitter.

K.K. Chalmers followed with a bases-clearing triple and the rout was on.

Eight singles, including Chad Lampley’s two-RBI basehit, and another error gave the Chargers an 11-2 lead after the third.

“We haven’t hit the ball like that all year,” junior pitcher Michael Robbins said. “For some reason we were just seeing it tonight. We hit the ball great.”

Staked to the huge lead and with the rain picking up intensity, Robbins kept the Gators from ever making a comeback.

Using a steady diet of fastballs to get to the fifth inning an officially completed game as fast as possible, Robbins struck out the side in the fourth inning, then fanned two of three batters in the top of the fifth.

“We had someone call in the radar and said the rain was on its way,” said Southaven coach Ed Rich, who led the Chargers to Class 5A state titles in 1999 and 2000. “We wanted to get this thing over as quickly as possible. I guess that’s modern technology at work.”

The Chargers loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. VHS pulled its defense in for a possible force out at home to keep the deficit at nine runs and make Robbins throw a sixth inning, but the fourth Gators’ error allowed Wes Jordan to score and end the game 12-2.

“We learned a lot of lessons tonight and I hope we can turn them into positives,” Creel said. “… If I went back over the history of this season and you asked me how many times we won two in a row against good competition, it’s a lot.

“We have to win one at home and one on the road. We’re certainly not throwing in any white towels at this stage.”