Vicksburg KOs Warren Central|[4/05/06]
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006
As the Vicksburg Gators took the field in the seventh inning Tuesday night, the team knew it would not win the Division 3-5A championship.
So they did the next best thing – kept Warren Central from winning it.
Senior Steven Price pitched a complete game and Gerald Mims had a pair of triples and had three RBIs as the Gators (14-7, 6-3 division) defeated WC, 7-5, in front of a packed house at Viking Field.
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“We’re tight with a couple guys over there, but it is the crosstown rival,” said Mims, who arrived at the VHS fieldhouse Tuesday morning sporting a fresh mohawk haircut and wild sideburns. “If we didn’t win it, we definitely didn’t want them to win it.”
What the Vicksburg win did do was to hand the division championship, and most importantly a home playoff series, to Madison Central. All three teams are tied with 6-3 division records and the Jaguars won the division because of tiebreakers.
The Gators and Vikings, who have already played each other three times this season, will now meet again in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs in Southaven in two weeks.
The baseball playoff format was changed this year to include three of four teams in each division. Vicksburg, the No. 2 seed, and WC, the third seed, will play with the winner turning right around and playing Southaven. Only the the top team in the double-elimination tournament will advance.
“They are a great team and their pitcher did a great job tonight. When we go to play them again, we will just have to hit the ball and make plays,” said WC second baseman Jonathan Ettinger, who had a pair of hits in the loss.
“(WC coach) Randy (Broome) is probably the best friend I have in this business,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said. “I have a lot of respect for he and his coaches and it was fun to watch kids that have grown up playing together go out and compete the way they did. There is no quit in either team.”
Vicksburg used a six-run fourth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit. Mims’ first triple cleared the bases, and Jordan Henry followed with an RBI double. The Gators capped the inning with an Eric Coleman single that skipped past the outfield all the way to the fence resulting in a three-base error and giving the Gators a 6-2 lead.
The Vikings managed one run in the fifth against Price, but Vicksburg added an insurance run in the seventh.
Going into the seventh, the Vikings had left five runners on base – all in scoring position.
“They got the key hits when they needed them and we didn’t,” said WC’s Josh Gordon, who singled twice and drove in a run. “We left runners on early and we knew it could come back to haunt us.”
As they had all night, WC put runners on in the bottom of the seventh. Cody Ferguson drew a leadoff walk and back-to-back singles by Carson and Ettinger loaded the bases with no outs.
Creel went to the mound to talk with his ace, but had no one warming up and no plans of taking out the senior righty.
“That last inning … man … I was running out of everything,” Price said. “I let up mentally because we knew we couldn’t win district because of the runs. I just let up a little.”
Price responded by getting Douglas to ground into a double play. Gordon then singled in a run to get the deficit down to 7-5, but Price struck out catcher Ben Koestler to end the game.
Price allowed eight hits and struck out five as he improved to 5-1 on the year. Douglas pitched 6 1/3 innings, gave up seven runs on 10 hits and struck out seven in a losing effort.
In addition to Mims’ two triples, Eric Coleman had a pair of hits and Henry doubled. Carson singled and doubled for the Vikings.
“We’re ready to play them again, get another shot at them,” Gordon said. “Maybe next time, we can get the key hit instead of them.”