Jags’ coach returns to see team slam Stars

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

[8/2/01]Madison Central coach Gregg Perry returned home from vacation and went to church on Sunday. He found out from his preacher that his players were in the championship game of the Governor’s Cup.

So he decided to make the trip to Vicksburg and check out how they were doing.

And they did pretty well without him.

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The Madison Jaguars took advantage of seven errors by the Vicksburg Stars in a 12-2 mercy-rule win in the championship of the 15-16-year-olds’ division on Sunday.

“I think it’s good,” said Perry, who coaches the Madison Central varsity baseball team. “It shows a lot of commitment from those guys to get together and continue to play.”

The players organized the details, and shortstop Jarrod Parks’ aunt provided the entry fee.

Left fielder Mark Lynn acted as a player-coach for the Jaguars throughout the tournament, but Perry said he’s not worried about his job security.

“He’s a little young to get my job right now,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll have to watch out for him in about 10 years.”

Madison came back with five runs in the seventh inning on Saturday to beat Vicksburg 9-5. The Stars then hammered the Alpha A’s 14-4 prior to the championship game.

Vicksburg appeared tired early in the game, which Stars coach Larry Tarnabine attributed to the heat.

“We were just sluggish after playing in the heat the first game,” Tarnabine said. “It’s just hot out and they were a little worn out from that first game.”

In the first inning, the Stars committed three errors, and had two passed balls and one wild pitch as Madison took a 3-0 lead.

The Stars’ starting catcher Ben Koestler left for vacation on Sunday and their backup, Eric Douglas was the starting pitcher. That forced Tarnabine to use Cody Ferguson, who ordinarily plays outfield.

“Anytime you put the ball in play, you’re going to make something happen,” said center fielder Josh Demoney, who led the Jaguars with three hits. “That’s what we tried to do today, just put it in play and try to make them make plays.”

Vicksburg added a run in the top of the second on Parker White’s RBI groundout. Parks then doubled in a run for Madison in the bottom frame to bring the lead back to three runs.

The Stars trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the fourth inning when Douglas brought in John Ettinger with a sacrifice fly. But that was all the scoring Vicksburg could muster.

Madison pitcher Nathan Hardy threw all five innings, allowing two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts.

“We hadn’t pitched him in this tournament because they’ve seen him a couple times this year already,” Lynn said. “He just came in and threw strikes.”

The Jaguars answered again in the bottom half with five runs to bring the score to 9-2. Mitch Harrison and Nathan Hardy each had RBI singles to start the rally. Nick Cupps then drew a walk to load the bases with two outs for Brian Higbee.

Higbee hit a blooping fly into center field, and Ettinger charged up to make the catch but dropped it. As the ball rolled back toward the outfield, all three runners on base scored before Higbee was thrown out at second base.

The Jaguars added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to reach the 10-run rule.

Harrison and Hardy each had a pair of hits and two RBIs for the Jaguars, who totaled 10 hits.

“They made a lot of errors, and we capitalized,” Lynn said. “We hit pretty good today, moved the runners around, got in scoring position and got them in.”