Vikings salvage rough week with a victory

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 5, 2009

Warren Central needed to end a tough week on a positive note. Port Gibson didn’t make it easy for them, but the Vikings got what they were looking for.

Keaton Sanders had a career-high 13 strikeouts and faced the minimum in a two-hit shutout, Dylan Wooten had three RBIs and WC beat Port Gibson 9-0 Saturday at Viking Field. The win helped ease the sting from a pair of division losses to Clinton and Greenville-Weston, and a lopsided loss to archrival Vicksburg over the previous five days.

“We needed confidence because that’s all we lack,” WC coach Josh Abraham said. “Today we came out and said it’s a new day. Everything previous is in the archives. Just pick up steam for the playoffs.”

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After Friday’s stunning 11-10 loss to Greenville, the Vikings came to the ballpark Saturday looking to take out their frustrations. Silento Sayles kept that from happening.

The eighth-grader kept the Vikings in check for five innings with good command, a sneaky curveball and a fastball that topped out in the 65 mph range. He allowed nine hits and six runs, but didn’t walk anyone and finished with four strikeouts.

WC scored in every inning, but never put together a big rally that would’ve blown the game open. The biggest inning for WC was the sixth, when it scored three runs off of reliever Jessie Hicks. An RBI single by Sanders and a two-run single by Wooten keyed that rally.

“We just couldn’t get our bats going. But our eighth-grader Sayles kept us in it,” Port Gibson coach Dan Smith said. “I had him pitching backward. When they were looking for a fastball I gave them a curveball and then threw a curveball on a fastball count. He was hitting his spots.”

Sanders, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in addition to his dominant performance on the mound, said it was Sayles’ velocity — or lack of it — that kept the Vikings off-balance.

“We had to get our timing down. We’ve been facing fast pitchers all week and had to adjust,” Sanders said.

Port Gibson never seemed to adjust to Sanders, either. The senior right-hander struck out the first four batters he faced and nine of the first 11. The Blue Waves got two hits off him — a triple by Dominic Savage and an infield single by Ezell Sharp — but neither runner advanced. Savage was thrown out at home on a squeeze attempt to finish an inning-ending double play in the second, and Sharp was thrown out trying to steal second base in the top of the sixth.

Savage’s triple down the right field line was the only ball the Waves hit out of the infield.

“We just asked (Sanders) to challenge their hitters with his fastball,” Abraham said. “He got ahead of a lot of hitters. The best thing he did was throw strike one. That’s the best pitch in baseball.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at