Unbeaten Madison one-hits Vicksburg|[4/19/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Austin O’Kelly is listed as Madison Central’s sixth starter in the pitching rotation.

But against Vicksburg, it really doesn’t matter who the Jaguars start.

O’Kelly pitched a complete-game, one-hitter and struck out seven in a 7-0 victory. Top-ranked Madison Central finished the regular season 27-0.

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Vernon Wolfe’s fifth-inning single broke up the no-hit bid, and O’Kelly hit one batter and one reached on an error.

Earlier in the season, Madison no-hit Vicksburg (17-9), and in the junior varsity game earlier Monday, the Jags no-hit the Gators.

“We’ve played them two times this year and we had a total of half a hit a game,” Vicksburg coach Jamie Creel said. “It’s hard to win ballgames with half a hit.”

The Gators, who open the playoffs on Thursday at two-time defending Class 5A state champion Oak Grove, are mired in a hitting funk that has lasted five games. VHS has scored eight runs over those last five games, and have been shutout in its last two.

“We better bring the bats on Thursday or it will be a very short postseason,” Creel said.

Despite Vicksburg’s hitting woes, sophomore pitcher Stefan Gibbs kept the team in the game until the fifth inning. Madison scored single runs in the second and third before Drew Hegi’s three-run home run in the fifth gave the Jags a 5-0 lead.

“This team really comes to play every time they walk between the lines,” Madison Central coach Gregg Perry said. “Hey, 27-0, you can’t get much better than that.”

Madison will open the postseason against Meridian on Thursday, and Perry said O’Kelly may play into the postseason equation.

“He hasn’t pitched much this year, but tonight, he did a fantastic job,” Perry said.

O’Kelly came into the game having thrown only 11 innings. He retired the first seven Gators before hitting Heath Daigre with one out in the third. Daigre was stranded at second, however.

Jordan Henry reached base in the fourth on an error and was balked to second and third with two outs. O’Kelly coaxed a lazy infield fly to end the threat. He retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced.

“You can never sit dead-red on their pitchers, and that’s what makes them such a great team,” Creel said. “They pitch well and piece together a run here and run there, then they break it open. They’ve played like that all year and that’s why they found a way to win every game.”

Gibbs allowed five runs over five innings and struck out five. Freshman Stanton Price pitched the final two innings and allowed a pair of runs.