Jackson claims South MVP in loss

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2004

[6/6/04]JACKSON After one of his warmup tosses sailed out of the bullpen and into left field, and he hit the first batter he faced, James Jackson figured he would be in for a rough afternoon.

As it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. He even got a souvenir out of it.

Vicksburg High’s Jackson struck out seven batters in 3 1/3 innings to claim MVP honors for the South team at Saturday’s Class 4A-5A all-star game, but Louisville’s Brandon Dotson went 2-for-2 with a double, four RBIs and three stolen bases to lead the North to a 9-2 win.

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“It feels great. I got a trophy, they invited me down here, and I wanted to play on this field since I was 12 but I couldn’t,” Jackson, a Meridian Community College signee, said as he smiled and clutched his MVP trophy in front of the dugout at Smith-Wills Stadium. “We were down and I came in and everybody was watching me, so I was like, I’ve got to perform.'”

Jackson’s day didn’t get off to a good start. The North scored three runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth off D’Iberville’s Matt Hill to blow open a scoreless game. Jackson relieved Hill with two outs and runners on second and third, and he promptly plunked Madison Central’s Nick Hardy to load the bases with two outs.

“I was like, It’s going to be a long day,'” Jackson said with a laugh. “The kid from Hattiesburg came out and said just calm down and throw strikes, and I got it going.”

Jackson got out of the jam with a groundball, however, and shut down the North for the better part of three innings. Hardy touched him for a run on an RBI single in the seventh that stretched the North’s lead to 8-2, but Jackson bounced back by striking out the last four batters he faced.

Jackson gave way to Laurel’s Ben Smith in the ninth, and finished the game in right field.

“Jackson’s pretty good now. He got in a groove,” said North coach David Lara, of Brandon. “I think he almost hit our third baseman when he was down there warming up, but when he came in on the mound he was zoned in.”

Warren Central’s Mark Different also played in the game, but he and the rest of the South hitters weren’t able to muster much offense against the North’s pitchers.

The South managed only four hits in the game.

Different entered the game at shortstop in the sixth, and went 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout.

Amory’s Mitch Moreland started the game and allowed one hit in three scoreless innings to earn Best Defensive Player honors.

“They had some good arms throwing tonight, and I guess a lot of us were kind of rusty. We hadn’t been around baseball for a couple of weeks now, and I guess it showed,” Different said.