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Cougars claw error-prone Gators, 6-4

Northwest Rankin catcher Greg Sinning looks to home plate umpire George Smith for a call after Sinning tagged Vicksburg’s Tyler Wells, left, after Wells tried to score from third base. Northwest Rankin won the game, 6-4. The Gators beat Jim Hill later Saturday afternoon. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[3/28/04]In a closely fought game, Vicksburg’s fielding mistakes proved costly.

Behind side-armed reliever Jonathan Johnston, Northwest Rankin came back to beat Vicksburg 6-4 on Saturday at Bazinsky Field. The Gators defeated Jim Hill in the second game of a doubleheader 19-9.

“I think we got lucky and caught them a little down on pitching,” Cougars coach Jeff McClaskey said. “I had more pitching than they did, and that’s probably what won the game, our pitching.”

The Gators (10-6) responded well after a 12-2 drubbing by Madison Central on Friday night, but fell apart late. In the final three innings, Vicksburg committed five errors and allowed five runs.

“We concentrated better in this game, and that’s what we’ve got to do every day,” VHS pitcher Steven Price said. “We’ve just got to concentrate two more innings.”

Price was solid for five innings before tiring. He allowed three runs and scattered seven hits before giving way to Drew Smith in the sixth inning.

Johnston, a Southern Miss signee, allowed one run on two hits in five innings of work. He struck out seven. He entered in the third inning when Ole Miss signee Brett Bukvich ran into trouble.

“I was just trying to get them to swing at the low pitch because my ball sinks,” Johnston said. “The first inning I came in a little shaky, but managed to get through it.”

Vicksburg lit up the scoreboard early on.

Price drove in Jordan Henry in the first inning and scored on an error to give VHS a 2-0 lead.

Northwest Rankin trimmed the advantage to one in the top of the third inning when Kenny Tackett doubled to left field, sending in Matt Welch. Matthew Little singled and advanced to second to give the Cougars two on with no outs. Price struck out Clint Woods, Casey Trest picked off Tackett at third base and Johnston grounded out to end the threat.

The Gators responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half, but never figured out Johnston’s awkward delivery.

Vicksburg reached base one time a walk in the fifth inning in the final four innings of the game. The Gators finished with three hits.

“(Johnston’s) a Division I signee for a reason,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said. “He kept us off-balanced, pitched it in and out and did a good job of mixing up his pitches.”

As Price began to tire for VHS, the Cougars started making contact.

Helped by a pair of Vicksburg errors, Johnston and Tyler Moore each drove in a run in the fifth inning to cut the VHS lead to 4-3. Price then was pulled for Smith in the sixth inning.

Joe Scalso led off with a single and Brett Adams followed with a bloop just past Smith. Henry, Wells and Smith all went for the ball. Smith picked it up and threw it over James Jackson’s head at first.

“Drew gives 100 percent, more than anybody out here on this team,” Creel said. “He was trying to make a play that was basically physically impossible to make.”

The result was runners on second and third with no outs. Scalso scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, and Welch gave Northwest Rankin the lead with an RBI groundout.

VHS 19, Jim Hill 9

Price belted three singles and a double, and Henry had three hits to lead the Gators to a win in their second game Saturday.

VHS scored eight runs in the first inning and led 9-1 after the second. With VHS’ starters on the bench, Jim Hill responded to tie the game at 9 after the fourth inning.

Vicksburg put its starters back in, though, and scored seven in the fourth to put the game away.

Warren Central 6, Clinton 5

Mark Different belted the team’s biggest hit of the game, then made the defensive play of the game to secure a victory over the rival Arrows on Saturday.

Different’s single in the top of the seventh inning scored two runs, and the Vikings added a third run in the inning to break a 3-3 tie and take a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Different allowed a single and a home run as Clinton clawed back to within one run to chase Different. Clinton hit two straight singles off of Turner and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out.

The next Arrows’ batter hit a ground shot to Different at shortstop. He stepped on second for the second out and then threw to first to complete the double play and save WC’s win.

Different led WC with three singles and three RBIs.

Union 4, St. Aloysius 3

Union scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to hold off a pesky, yet depleted, St. Aloysius squad on Saturday.

With two outs in the fifth, Union hit a ground ball to the infield. The throw to first baseman Andy Wiles was in time, but Wiles had to stretch. Coach Joe Graves said Wiles’ foot remained on the base the whole time, but the umpire ruled that Wiles pulled his foot.

Curtis Roberts had two hits and three RBIs, and Jordan Muirhead had two hits and scored three runs.

Freshman Marsh Willis pitched a complete game, but took the loss. The Flashes were playing without four seniors, who were on retreat.