Prentiss comes through in the clutch|[05/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Speedy VHS outfielder has become one of team’s most feared players

Thinking about pitching around Stanton Price? Trey Prentiss is quickly showing that may not be a good move.

New Albany tried it twice in their Class 4A third-round series with the Vicksburg Gators when it handed the hot-hitting Price an intentional walk to load the bases. Prentiss responded big, in both situations.

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In Game 1 at Warren Central’s Viking Field, he laced a single, scoring two runs to highlight a six-run, second inning. Vicksburg went on to post an 11-1 romp in a game called after five innings.

The next day, at New Albany, Price was intentionally walked again. He had hit a towering solo home run in the inning before, so it appeared the move would be a good one, at least this time.

Prentiss foiled those plans again. The junior left fielder smashed a ball down the right field line, scoring two runs as the Gators, again broke it open with a six-run inning. They went on to close out the series in two games with the 14-5 win.

“Stanton tells me, when they walk him to get me, I need to make them pay. I was glad to pick Stanton up,” Prentiss said.

Prentiss was on fire in the New Albany series, going 3-for-3 in Game 1 with two RBIs, then had three more hits in Game 2. He also had a key, two-run home run in Game 3 at Oxford to help the Gators wrap up that second round series.

“He had an 0-2 breaking ball and he went down and lifted it over dead center, no contest,” VHS coach Jamie Creel said of the Oxford home run that gave the Gators a 5-2 lead. They went on win, 7-4.

“He’s always had talent. He started last year. But this year, he’s had so many big hits for us. He’s been a big reason for our success,” Creel said.

And that success has been unprecedented for Vicksburg High baseball. For the past two years, the Gators were a solid Class 5A playoff team, making the quarterfinals in 2006 and then taking top-ranked Tupelo to three games in the first round last year.

Gators open series against TishomingoA pair of North State newcomers will meet starting Thursday to decide who goes to the state championship series.Vicksburg High (26-7) will play Tishomingo County (27-6) at Warren Central’s Viking Field starting at 6 p.m. in a best-of-three series. Game two is scheduled for Friday at Tishomingo, located in the Northeast Mississippi town of Iuka.Tishomingo defeated Lafayette County 6-3 on Tuesday night in the third game of their series. Sophomore pitcher Derek Wright allowed three runs in five innings Tuesday to improve to 8-0.Matt Davis (7-0) is scheduled to start Thursday’s game on the mound against Vicksburg lefty Stanton Price (9-1).In 4A, they’ve become state title contenders, thanks to a lineup that is balanced with speed, ability to go to all fields, and power.

Prentiss has five home runs, which ranks fourth on the team, behind Price (8), Blake Hynum (7) and Bowen Woodson (6). Against New Albany, all of his hits went for singles, but all were on the button, hard-hit balls.

It’s something his cousin, Roosevelt Brown, a former Major League player for five years with the Chicago Cubs, has been preaching to him about.

“Trey doesn’t know yet how good he can be,” Brown said recently, while scouting out talent.

“He says that I still have a long way to go,” Prentiss said with a grin. “I’ve gone to him a little for advice, when I need him.

“Most of the things he wants me to do better, I’ll have to wait and work on during this summer. The big thing is he wants me to get started earlier with my hands,” Prentiss said.

For the season, Prentiss is hitting .337 with 35 RBIs. He’s come on so well this season, his baseball future may be brighter than the one with his other sport — football.

“I love both and I hope I can do both,” said Prentiss, who was an All-County defensive back for the Gators football team.

Prentiss said the success in the playoffs has helped sharpen his baseball outlook.

“With playoff time, it’s time to get serious. I’m just trying to do my part in helping the team win. It’s been pretty exciting. We’ve shown we’ve come to play baseball. We’ got on a long winning steak, saw it get cut, and then we came back again.”

A hot swinging offense has been the key. Since a Game 2 loss to Neshoba Central in the first round, the Gators have not scored fewer than seven runs in their last six games.

“We’re going good when we can get a lot of hits and that means we’re scoring a lot of runs,” Prentiss said.