• 52°

County sends two to annual classic

[6/4/04]Warren County’s top two players will be on the same team for a change.

Vicksburg High’s James Jackson and Warren Central’s Mark Different will play for the South squad in Saturday’s Mississippi Association of Coaches all-star baseball game at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson.

The 4A/5A game will begin at 1 p.m. The 1A/2A/3A game will follow at 6 p.m.

“It’s a big honor,” Different said. “I want to go out and have fun and play hard.”

But probably not as hard as when the two faced off in their crosstown rivalry this season. Jackson’s Gators defeated Different’s Vikings twice to claim the Division 6-5A crown.

Jackson pitched 15 innings and had 25 strikeouts in the two games including a one-hit, 15-strikeout performance in the second game and picked up both wins.

Different combined to throw 14 innings, but Warren Central fell short by a run in both contests.

Both also had terrific seasons.

Different hit .441 with six home runs and 47 RBIs to lead the Vikings. He also was 10-4 on the mound with a 3.12 ERA.

Jackson finished 4-4 despite a sparkling 1.14 ERA. He led the Gators with a .364 average, two home runs and 27 RBIs.

Despite being rivals during the season, they’ll enjoy being teammates in today’s game.

When asked who was the best player he’s seen, Jackson replied, “I like the Warren County players, so I’m going to say Mark Different.”

He also insisted there will be no competition between the two now.

“We’re just up here playing around and having a good time,” said Jackson, who arrived on Thursday and began throwing in the bullpen to shake off some rust.

It has been about a month since both players have played, but Jackson said it won’t take much to pick up where he left off.

“Once you have a habit, you won’t lose it,” he said. “Once you warm it back up, it’s back up and ready.”

Different may see time at both second base and shortstop in the game, while Jackson most likely will come out of the bullpen to throw an inning or two.