Top-ranked Oak Grove eases by WC|[2/20/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 21, 2005

Warren Central began the 2005 baseball season the same way it finished 2004 – with a loss to Oak Grove.

The top-ranked Warriors used a pair of three-run innings and blasted three home runs in an 8-5 opening day win over the Vikings (1-1). Warren Central defeated No. 11 Gulfport 5-4 in the second game.

Oak Grove, the two-time defending Class 5A state champions, defeated Warren Central in May in Game 3 of the South State championship series to earn a berth in the state championship series.

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The winning pitcher in that game, lefty Wayne Smith, threw five innings Saturday. He allowed three runs in the fifth and struck out four before giving way to Ryan Norton in the sixth.

“We wanted him to pitch four or five innings and throw about 85 pitches,” Oak Grove coach Harry Breland said of Smith. “We had no intentions of him going the whole game. We probably extended him one inning more than we should have.”

Smith carried a shutout into the fifth and recorded the first out of the inning. Jeff Ward then walked and Drew Warnock was hit by a pitch. Ward scored on a Will Mendrop single and Warnock added the second run on a wild pitch.

Ben Koestler’s two-out double scored Mendrop as the Vikings sliced the deficit to 5-3.

“I think we showed some poise staying in it,” WC coach Randy Broome said. “We were down 5-0 and Smith was controlling things, but we were able to scratch a few runs there.”

Oak Grove added three runs in the top of the seventh inning off of WC reliever Eric Douglas. Zack Harrington’s two-RBI single and Kyle Lee’s RBI triple gave the Warriors an 8-3 lead.

WC battled back in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a Mendrop single and three Oak Grove errors. WC scored two runs in the inning and had runners on second and third with two outs. Norton coaxed a flyout from Josh Gordon to end the game.

“I wasn’t pleased at all with our defense,” said Breland, whose team committed four errors. “It was very uncharacteristic of how we play defense.”

Mendrop led WC with a pair of singles and Koestler doubled.

Cullen Tatum paced Oak Grove with a pair of solo home runs, while Hendrick Leverette hit a two-run shot in the third inning.

“I feel like we can notch ourselves now after playing the top team, in the state” Broome said. “They have nine state championship guys back, but I feel good abut us getting better during the year and facing them again.”

WC 5, Gulfport 4

Will Mendrop’s seventh-inning single scored Chris Whittington to lift the Vikings to a win over 11th-ranked Gulfport in the final game of a three-game afternoon at Viking Field.

In the middle game, Gulfport defeated Oak Grove 8-3.

Zach Balthrop hit a three-run home run in bottom of the first inning, but Gulfport came back to take a 4-3 lead at the end of the fifth inning.

Eric Douglas, who led the Vikings with a double and two singles, drove in Balthrop for the tying run in the seventh inning.

North Pike 21, St. Al 4

North Pike scored 18 runs in a disastrous second inning en route to a blowout at the Clinton Tournament.

St. Aloysius (1-2) held a 3-0 lead after the first inning, but North Pike put the game away in the second.

Jordan Muirhead led the Flashes with three singles. Blake Tidwell took the loss.

McComb 7, St. Al 4

McComb led 5-0 before St. Aloysius scored a run in the finale of the Clinton Tournament.

Rob Jones singled and homered, and Muirhead singled twice for the Flashes.

Jones pitched a complete game, but was charged with the loss.