Division title on the line for WC, VHS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

[4/6/04]Both sides know what’s on the line heading into tonight’s game.

Vicksburg and Warren Central will square off at Viking Field for the Division 6-5A championship and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

“We’ve got to beat Vicksburg. Whether it’s by a run or two or three or whatever, the winner takes all,” WC coach Randy Broome said. “They’re sitting in the driver’s seat right now. They beat us outright. If we beat them, it goes back to the tie-breaker situation, which we have in our favor.”

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The Gators (12-7, 5-0) won the first matchup 5-4 on March 23 at Bazinsky Field. If the Vikings (16-6, 4-1) win tonight, they claim the division title based on tiebreakers. Even if WC wins by one run to tie the head-to-head run differential, the Vikings still hold the next tiebreaker run differential against other teams in the division.

“We’ve got to go to their place and try to avoid all the tiebreakers, try to win the game so there’s no dispute,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said. “It’s going to be a tough job.”

Both coaches have saved their aces for the game. Warren Central will throw Mark Different, who is 7-1 with a 2.73 ERA, three walks and 32 strikeouts in 41 innings. Different threw 5 2/3 innings in the first game against Vicksburg, allowing nine hits and five runs.

“I think we’ve set up Mark. He’s coming off five days rest,” Broome said. “I threw a big bullpen last week. Hopefully, he’ll be a little sharper. He threw well last time we played them, but he’s thrown better during the year.”

Vicksburg will counter with James Jackson, who is 3-2 with a 1.88 ERA, 15 walks and 44 strikeouts in 26 innings. Jackson went the distance in the last meeting between the two clubs, striking out 10 on his way to the victory.

“James is going to go out there and pitch a good ballgame,” Creel said. “If we back him up at all, then we’ve got a pretty good shot to win the ballgame.”

And Jackson knows how important the game is, especially for his school’s pride.

“It means too much. We haven’t won a district championship since I don’t know when,” he said. “They beat us out in football and basketball. It’s time to get a little revenge out here.”

Both teams are coming off big losses on Saturday. Warren Central lost 8-1 to Northwest Rankin to end a four-game winning streak, while Vicksburg had its three-game winning streak snapped by Clinton in an 8-0 loss.