St. Martin stifles VHS in Game 1

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 23, 2004

Vicksburg’s Steven Price grimaces after striking out in the second inning of a first-round playoff game against St. Martin on Thursday. VHS lost, 3-0. The Gators will travel to St. Martin on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[4/23/04]Pitcher Aaron Hitt told St. Martin coach Greg Williams not to come to the mound to chat.

Williams held out all game until Hitt walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as the Yellowjackets clung to a three-run lead. The coach walked toward Hitt to settle him down and focus on the batter.

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“He just told me to throw it over the plate and let someone else make the play, and that’s what I did,” Hitt said.

And second baseman Bubbie Hitt barely made the play. Hitt fumbled Hampton Calvin’s ground ball before finally throwing him out at first as St. Martin completed a 3-0 shutout of Vicksburg in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs on Thursday.

“We made it interesting there on that play,” Williams said. “We bobbled it at second, but got the out. That’s all you’re looking for in that situation.”

The Gators will travel to the Gulf Coast on Saturday for Game 2 of the series. Game 3, if necessary, would be in Vicksburg on Monday.

Hitt went the distance for St. Martin (21-9), scattering five hits with nine strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter. He threw a 4-0 shutout against Ocean Springs last Friday to get the Jackets into the postseason, and followed with another in the playoffs.

“The last inning was ugly there, but he got a shutout again tonight,” Williams said. “I can’t ask for him to do any more than he did tonight.”

James Jackson gave another stellar effort for the Division 6-5A champion Gators (17-10). He threw all seven innings, allowing seven hits with 11 strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter.

“If we don’t get timely hits when we need them, we’re not going to win,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said. “(Jackson) didn’t do a bad job. That’s two runs we’ve gotten him in the last three ballgames. That doesn’t even average out to one a game.

“If you can’t put any offense on the board, you’ll never win.”

Jackson took the loss, but all three St. Martin runs were unearned, resulting from Vicksburg fielding miscues.

Takan Weston drew a walk in the top of the third inning and advanced to second on a passed ball. Austin Bennett the only St. Martin player with two hits followed with an RBI single to give the Jackets a 1-0 advantage.

Eric Bird singled to start the fifth and stole second base. Jason Hitt then reached on an error to put runners on first and third with two outs.

Catcher Tanner Woodson allowed another passed ball that scored Bird as Hitt advanced to second base. Danny Myers then grounded to VHS shortstop Jordan Henry, who bobbled the ball and threw it over first baseman Sean Gibbs’ head to allow Hitt to score.

“They took advantage of our mistakes, we didn’t take advantage of what they gave us,” Creel said. “We just mistaked it right back and gave it to them.”