Gators avoid elimination for third straight time|[07/23/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 23, 2007

Colby Key definitely provided a big key to get the Vicksburg Gators to the semifinals of the Babe Ruth 16-year-olds’ Southwest Regional.

Key, a rising sophomore at Warren Central, tossed a complete game to deliver a 7-5 win for the Gators over West Arkansas Sunday night at Bazinsky Field.

The win was Vicksburg’s third straight while facing elimination in the eight-team tournament, all within a 24-hour span. They beat Central Mississippi in a game that finished around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, then came back to beat the Vicksburg Thunder Sunday afternoon.

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Today, the Gators face Tri-County, Texas, at 3 p.m. in another elimination game. The winner advances to face unbeaten Mid-County, Texas, in the finals at 6 p.m.

&#8220Colby did an outstanding job,” Gators coach Jamie Creel said. &#8220We thought about bringing (Kurt) Cooksey there in the seventh, but Colby deserved to finish the game.

&#8220I am extremely proud of these kids. I got chills out there on a warm night. This is great for our community. Whether it’s Warren Central or Vicksburg, these kids have shown a great attitude in wanting to do well for their community,” Creel added.

Key, who withstood a late West Arkansas rally, was just trying to make it through.

&#8220I haven’t been out there that long before,” he said. &#8220I didn’t have much of a curveball. I mainly threw a lot of fastballs.”

Vicksburg was up 7-2 going into the top of the sixth when West Arkansas made its run. Two hits and an error loaded the bases with no outs.

Key struck out Preston Guidry for the first out and then traded a run for an out with Kyle Cooper. A two-run single by William Seagraves cut the Gator lead to 7-5. Key, though, got a groundout on the next batter to end the inning.

In the seventh, West Arkansas got the tying run on base after an error and an infield hit. Key bounced back, getting two straight popups to end the game, the last coming when third baseman Ryan Ferrington ran down a ball hit high in the air by West Arkansas’ Chris Brown.

&#8220Bowen said he called for it, but I never heard him and I got it,” Ferrington said. &#8220Colby did a really good job. We had confidence in him.”

Ferrington had the game’s first big hit with a double to right-center to score Trey Prentiss and Cooksey for a 3-0 lead. Cooksey had earlier singled in Brian Fitzgerald.

The Gators knocked out Seagraves, the second West Arkansas pitcher, on Prentiss’ triple to right and Cooksey’s second RBI single for a 5-1 lead.

Up 5-2, the Gators went small-ball, using two sacrifice bunts to create a pair of runs after Guidry hit both Adam Lee and Ferrington to begin the fifth inning.

&#8220We had to do it because the last kid they had was a pretty good pitcher,” Creel said.

Guidry allowed just one earned run in 4 1/3 innings of relief. Cooper lasted just two-thirds of an inning and took the loss.

Cooksey had three hits for the Gators and Prentiss had two.

Mid-County 10, Tri-County 5

Mid-County moved into today’s finals as reliever Taylor Thompson got out of a pair of bases-loaded situations in the final two innings.

Mid-County built a 7-1 lead but Tri-County scored four runs in the fifth to make it 7-5. The South Texas champs then loaded the bases in the sixth before Thompson got Mid-County out of it with a flyout to left.

Chad Sims led Mid-County with four hits, including a pair of two-run home runs. Taylor Eaves had two doubles and scored three runs.

Kyle Supak led Tri-County with three hits and Colby Schindler had two hits.

West Arkansas 11, Miss-Lou 0

Joey Davis struck out eight and blanked Miss-Lou in an elimination game Sunday afternoon. Anthony Davenport had three hits while Hayden Przybysz and Chris Brown each had two.