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Vikings sweep Hounds; Gators stay alive

Jackson blasts Gators into Game 3 with two home runs, double in win

[4/25/04]ST. MARTIN Vicksburg senior right fielder James Jackson assured Gators coach Jamie Creel that Vicksburg would return home for a pivotal Game 3 in their Class 5A baseball playoff series with St. Martin.

He kept his promise.

Jackson smashed a pair of solo homers and drove in three runs Saturday as the Gators defeated St. Martin 6-1

With the best-of-three series even at one game apiece, the two teams meet Monday at 6 p.m. at Bazinsky Field.

“James drove off in his car (Thursday) after he got beat on the mound,” Creel said. “He stopped his car and ran back to me in the dugout. I’ve never had him do that to me.

“He told me there was no way he would let us lose today. Whatever he had to do at the plate, he would do it. He sure stepped up and did it.”

Jackson’s run-scoring double in the third tied Saturday’s game at 1 and set the table for a four-run uprising. He then pulled a home run to right into the teeth of a stiff Gulf Coast wind in the fifth. And he blasted an opposite field homer to left in the seventh.

“I was just trying to hit the ball and get on base,” Jackson said. “Then good things happened. I actually thought the wind would hold up (the first homer) and it would be a quick out.”

Vicksburg improved to 18-10.

St. Martin (21-10) took a 1-0 lead in the third on Austin Bennett’s triple to right and Jason Hitt’s RBI single to center.

Vicksburg answered quickly off Hitt, who was making a rare start this season after going through arm problems. Steven Price blooped a double to left and Jackson doubled him home. One out later, Sean Gibbs walked an Tyler Wells blooped a single to right, loading the bases.

At this point, St. Martin’s defense failed to turn Tanner Woodson’s grounder up the middle into an out of any kind. The ball rolled past Hitt, negating a possible force at the plate. Then the ball rolled under the glove of shortstop Aaron Hitt, turning the grounder into a two-run error. Henry Jordan’s sacrifice fly capped the uprising.

“I was worried about us scoring any runs,” Creel said. “We hadn’t scored many runs in the last few games. It was important for us to step up there and take advantage of a few mistakes.”

Left-hander John Hendrix ran his record to 7-2, stranding nine runners and giving up seven hits.

“This is the best game John has pitched,” Creel said. “John usually pitches up in the zone and gives up the high flyball. They beat a lot of balls into the ground today and we played some stellar defense. We got some critical double plays when we had them.”

“They got all the breaks today and maybe we got all the breaks up there Thursday,” St. Martin coach Greg Williams said. “I told the kids we would go up there and battle see what would happen.

“We just have to do a better job of getting men in when we get them on.”