WC fights through power outage to beat Ridgeland

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2004

Warren Central players Cody Ferguson, left, and Derrick Beard, right, play tic-tac-toe in the dirt while they wait for power to return to Viking Field on Thursday night. Strong winds blew down power lines near Bovina and caused a 30-minute outage at Warren Central. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[3/5/04]Top of the eighth. Score tied at 4. Two outs.

Ridgeland’s Justin Smith hit a grounder to Warren Central shortstop Mark Different, and darkness covered the baseball field.

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With howling winds and no power, the only thing missing from this horror flick was the slasher himself.

Play resumed about 30 minutes later when power was restored, and Nick Carson scored from third base on a wild pitch to give the Vikings a 5-4 win.

“Of course we would rather have seen a ball stroked somewhere to get it in, but it’s a W and we’ve been lucky to catch a break like that,” WC coach Randy Broome said.

Winds gusting to nearly 40 miles per hour knocked down a power line on Highway 80 near Bovina, sending Viking Field into blackness in the eighth inning.

“I didn’t know what happened,” Different said. “All of a sudden the lights just started going off. Luckily I could still see the ball because it’s white.”

Different fielded the ball and threw it to first base, where Ryan Grey somehow came up with the catch for the third out.

“I just watched it the best I could,” Grey said. “I saw it a little bit a glimpse of it. I lost it, but I caught it.”

Play stopped for about a half hour while coaches and officials determined whether the power would return. Neither team was ready to concede a tie or reschedule the game.

“Nobody likes a tie, it’s like kissing your sister,” Ridgeland coach Tim Dowdy said.

Just when everyone was ready to give up, the lights behind the plate at Warren Central Junior High flickered on. The teams began to warm up for play in the bottom of the eighth.

“We were just preaching to the kids to stay focused,” Broome said of the 30-minute delay.

Carson beat out an infield single down the third base line, and Different reached first on a bunt single to start things off for the Vikings in the eighth.

The runners advanced on Alan Carlisle’s sacrifice bunt, and Vaughn Mims was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Ridgeland’s Tyler Williams struck out Jake Turner for the second out, but threw a wild pitch past the catcher and Carson sprinted in for the win.

“I wasn’t too sure if we showed up tonight,” Broome said. “It was an earlier ballgame, not a usual time for us to play, and a 4A school we’ve never played before. I think mentally that we just weren’t here.”

The Vikings led 2-1 after the first inning, but Ridgeland put together a rally in the third.

Edward Joe led off with a double to the left-field wall, Williams was hit by a pitch and Blake Hitchcock singled to load the bases.

Shelby Robertson grounded out to Drew Warnock at the mound to drive in Joe. Derrick Holmes followed with a shot to left-center that would have cleared the fence on a windless evening. Holmes’ double drove in two runs to give the Titans a 4-2 lead.

Parker White then came in relief of Warnock for his first game as a Viking. He allowed no runs in 5 2/3 innings, including a stretch in which he retired eight straight, to pick up the win.

“Parker ended up settling in,” Broome said. “His curveball stayed up, stayed up, and he finally found it.”

Warren Central tied it at 4 in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Zach Balthrop walked and Otis Stamps reached on an error to get things going. Carson singled in Balthrop and Different hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Stamps and tie the score.

The Vikings had a chance to end the game in the seventh but blew it.

“It’s baseball,” Grey said. “We hit it hard, but we just hit it right to them.”

With the bases loaded and no outs, Eric Douglas grounded into a fielder’s choice at the plate. Will Mendrop hit a liner to shortstop Daniel Nelson, and Stamps flew out to right field to end the inning.

But they were able to pull out the win despite the game’s bizarre circumstances.

“That was a first time for me in my career, as a ball player to growing on up,” Broome said.