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Vikings unable to double up Oak Grove

Warren Central shortstop Mark Different (8) attempts to turn a double play with Allen Carlisle (9) in the fifth inning against Oak Grove on Thursday.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[3/12/04]Warren Central couldn’t get past the defending state champions again.

Behind the steady pitching of Ryan Norton and some timely hitting, Oak Grove (5-4) held off a late rally to defeat the Vikings 8-5 on Thursday.

WC (7-2) beat the Warriors 6-5 at Oak Grove on Feb. 21, but struggled to string hits together the second time around.

Ryan Grey hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning and Mark Different added a solo shot in the seventh for the Vikings, but it was too little, too late.

“We didn’t catch some of the breaks today that we’ve caught before,” WC coach Randy Broome said. “We did hit some baseballs hard, and they made the plays on them.”

Oak Grove second baseman Hayes Singleton was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs and made a pair of big defensive plays.

Down 8-1 with one out and runners on first and second in the fifth, Different slapped a grounder to second base. Singleton completed an unassisted double play to end the inning.

In the seventh, the Vikings trailed 8-5 with two runners on, two outs, and Jake Turner at the plate. Turner hit a shot up the middle, but a diving Singleton stopped the ball and ended the game with a fielder’s choice at second.

“We got some big hits tonight and also some big-time defensive plays,” Oak Grove coach Harry Breland said. “I thought our second baseman made some big-time defensive plays to get our pitcher out of jams.”

For the most part, Norton didn’t need the help.

He struggled early on with his control, giving up a run on two hits, but settled down in the second inning.

“The mound was a little different from what I’d been pitching from,” Norton said. “It’s a little bit of a step down, so I had to find my location. But after the first, I was ready to roll.”

He rolled all the way to the sixth inning before giving up another run.

“When we got behind, I think that’s when he was more effective,” Broome said of Norton. “We were letting fastballs go and swinging at curveballs. That’s where we got in trouble.”

WC pitcher Drew Warnock ran into trouble in the third inning.

He loaded the bases with no outs and surrendered two runs on a double by Singleton. Norton followed with an RBI single to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead. But with runners on second and third and no outs, Warnock pulled out three grounders to end the threat.

He struggled again in the fourth, allowing a two-out RBI single to Grant Hogue and another hit by Singleton before being replaced. Parker White entered and coaxed a grounder to shortstop for the third out.

The Warriors added two runs off White in the fifth and two more in the sixth to stake an 8-1 lead.

“When they got runners in scoring position, they got them in and we didn’t,” Broome said.

In the bottom of the sixth, Grey came in to pinch hit and blasted a three-run home run to dead center on the first pitch.

After shutting down Oak Grove in the seventh, Warren Central got one last chance.

Different hit a solo shot to left field off new pitcher Kyle Lee. That cut the lead to 8-5, but the Vikings couldn’t score again.