Pearl sneaks past VHS; WC, PCA, St. Al roll|[02/27/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A bobbled fly ball. A throw off the glove of the first baseman. A brief slip and a wild throw while fielding a bunt.

Three mistakes, all an inch or two away from being spectacular or routine plays. As individual mistakes they wouldn’t add up to much. Thrown together, however, they were costly for Vicksburg High.

Pearl turned the three Gator missteps into three unearned runs in the fifth inning Monday, the difference in a 5-4 Pirate victory in the Division 3-4A opener for both teams.

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Stephen Byrd went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored for Pearl (5-1, 1-0), and also kept the Gators in check on the mound. He allowed five hits and two walks in seven innings. Bowen Woodson scored twice for Vicksburg (2-2, 0-1) without getting a hit — he walked in the first and reached on a dropped third strike in the third and scored both times — and Kurt Cooksey went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and an RBI.

“Just one bad inning cost us. Coach (Jamie) Creel says if we play 21 outs we’ll win every game. We gave them 25,” said Vicksburg centerfielder Trey Prentiss, who hit a two-run homer but also bobbled the fly ball that started Pearl’s big rally.

With the game tied at 2 in the top of the fifth, Byrd led off with a sinking liner to left-center. Prentiss ran over and appeared to make a nice sliding catch. He dropped the ball as he pulled it out of his glove, though, and the umpires called it no catch. Byrd rolled into second with a double.

“I caught it, but as soon as I transferred it up to my glove I dropped it,” Prentiss said. “Everybody in America knows I caught it.”

The next batter, Taylor Bates, hit a chopper just over the glove of the first baseman Cooksey. Second baseman Andrew Brown backed up the play, but his throw was high and tipped off the glove of Cooksey. The error allowed Byrd to score the go-ahead run, Bates went to second, and Zach Bridges followed with an RBI double to the wall in left-center to make it 4-2.

Nick Pitman then tried to bunt Bridges to third. VHS pitcher Stanton Price fielded the ball cleanly, but the lefty lost his balance slightly as he turned to throw. The throw sailed over Cooksey’s head at first, allowing Bridges to score and make it 5-2.

“It was like a snowball,” Creel said. “One bad thing happens, then adversity pops you in the mouth and we didn’t react very well. And that’s my fault.”

The deficit was too much for the Gators to overcome, but they did regroup and almost pulled off a wild, improbable comeback.

Prentiss popped a two-run homer over the wall in right in the bottom of the sixth to cut it to 5-4. In the seventh, Bowen Woodson reached on a two-out error to keep the Gators alive. Woodson then tried to steal second, and Bridges’ throw beat him by about 10 feet. Woodson somehow avoided the tag, however, setting off a wild scene.

Pearl coach Jim Abraham, irate over the call, stormed on to the field. Abraham never asked for time, though, and as both he and shortstop Bates argued with the umpire Creel alertly waved Woodson into third. Woodson was nearly sent home before the Pirates realized what had happened. More arguing ensued from Abraham, but Woodson was allowed to stay at third.

“Nobody called time out. We’d have sent him home if the catcher hadn’t been alert,” Creel said.

Third base was as far as Woodson got, however. Brian Fitzgerald hit a one-hopper back to the mound that was fielded cleanly by Byrd, who tossed to first for the final out.

“They made the call and I almost blew it for us. That was the right call, moving him to third,” Abraham said. “I’m just glad (Byrd) was tough enough to put that behind him. You can’t say enough about the job he did. He’s a bulldog.”

PCA 17, Mount Salus 0

Matt Cranfield did it all for Porters Chapel on Tuesday.

The senior threw a four-inning no-hitter, had a double and a home run as the Eagles (1-1) defeated Mount Salus on Tuesday. Cranfield led all hitters with three hits, while Austin Barber, Chris May, Clayton Holmes, Josh Hill and Gabby Hays each had two hits.

St. Aloysius 4, McLaurin 0

The Flashes (3-1) scored three runs over the first two innings and sophomore Ryno Martin-Nez tossed a shutout as St. Al defeated McLaurin in a game moved to Hinds Community College.

Martin-Nez and Brendan Beesley each had two hits in the shutout.

WC 27, Provine 1

Warren Central (1-3) scored five in the first, 10 in the second and 12 in the third in a rout of division-rival Provine. The two teams are scheduled to meet again on Friday.

Jason Pettway threw a four-inning complete game. He gave up one run on one hit and also went 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and three RBIs.

Jimmy Elliott went 4-for-4 with four doubles and four RBIs and Jonathan Longmire had a single, double and a triple. Cody Barfield, Heath Carroll and Adam Lee each had two hits in the victory. WC had 18 hits and Provine committed eight errors.