Ashley, WC send Cougars to first loss

Published 12:04 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

Warren Central picked up a big momentum boost by rallying from a 4-0 deficit to knock off unbeaten Northwest Rankin 5-4 Thursday night at Viking Field.

The Vikings (3-3) got three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to a meltdown by Northwest Rankin relief pitcher Kelsey Wilkinson. WC coach Josh Abraham didn’t care how his Vikings did it, he’s just glad they have something to build on going into tonight’s Division 4-6A opener against archrival Vicksburg at Bazinsky Field.

“We did a good job of competing for all seven innings,” Abraham said. “Northwest is a very solid defensive team, but like us, they have a big division game (tonight), so they didn’t throw their best. This will give us confidence going into tomorrow night. It should be a fun ball game.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Warren Central got its fun going in the fourth inning despite being down 4-0. Will Stegall’s roller down the third-base line was enough to score Beau Wallace and plate the first WC run. Brandon Gates followed with a single up the middle to score Carlos Gonzalez to make it 4-2.

In the WC fifth, pinch-hitter Devon Bell reached on a one-out error against Cougar starter Caleb Dugas. Dugas then walked Bill McRight. A sharp single by Clayton Ashley loaded the bases and that was all for Dugas.

Northwest coach Jeff McClaskey brought in Wilkinson, one of his top relievers. Wilkinson nearly missed nabbing Ashley off second base, but Ashley slid under the tag and was ruled safe. Wilkinson then tried to get Bell off third base, but his throw went past the bag. Bell scored to make it 4-3 and the two other Viking runners moved into scoring position.

On a 2-2 pitch to Beau Wallace, Wilkinson threw way right of catcher Kreg Garner. The wild pitch went to the fence. McRight scored easily and Ashley hustled around third and darted home, beating the relay tag to put WC up 5-4.

“I got to third and saw where the catcher couldn’t find the ball, so I went home,” Ashley said.

Wilkinson walked thee straight Vikings to reload the bases. WC, however, left the runners stranded after Wilkinson came back to strike out the next two Vikings to end the inning.

Ashley, who came to the mound in relief in the fourth inning, was pumped to have the lead.

“I knew I had a defense that can make plays behind me,” Ashley said.

Ashley allowed a one out walk, but got out of the sixth inning with a flyout to left and a groundout to second.

In the seventh, an error in left made things interesting. Reid Humphries rolled into second after his towering fly was dropped in left. He then went to third on a wild pitch with just one out.

Ashley struck out Northwest’s Cody Livingston and then got Jordan Stark to line out to Travis Barnett at second base to end the game.

“This will be a real good boost going into Vicksburg,” Ashley said. “This is the start of many wins for us. Our defense is good and our sticks are coming.”

Northwest (4-1) showed the early sticks with Annon Etheridge blasting a two-run homer to center off WC starter Chase Ladd in the first inning. Alex Shermer had a solo shot in the second for a 3-0 lead and Dugas knocked in a run in the fourth on a double.

Ladd walked six in 32⁄3 innings and was also touched up for both home runs. Ashley pitched three-plus scoreless innings to grab the win.

McRight and Brandon Gates had two hits each for WC. Etheridge had two hits and drove in two runs for the Cougars.

Port Gibson 15, South Pike 4

Shaquille Williams doubled and drove in a pair of runs, and Dominic Savage added two RBIs as Port Gibson (4-0, 1-0 Division 7-4A) opened its division schedule with a rout of South Pike (0-5, 0-1).

Arthur Turner tripled for Port Gibson, which trailed 4-3 after two innings. The Blue Waves scored four runs in the third to take the lead for good and pulled away from there. Devonta Tarleton struck out five batters in four innings to earnl the victory.

Port Gibson will play a doubleheader today at South Pike, then face Clinton and Ridgeland — both at Clinton High School — on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1.