Clinton blanks Vicksburg

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CLINTON — The Vicksburg Gators picked a bad time to regress to their light-hitting ways.

Clinton pitcher Chase Lunceford finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed just five hits as the Arrows took a division win from Vicksburg, 4-0 on Tuesday night.

It was the first time in five games that the Gators (5-6, 2-2 Divison 3-6A) scored less than five runs, and was a troubling reminder of an early-season slump they thought had been left behind. In Vicksburg’s first four games this season, it scored a total of 11 runs.

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“We’ve just got to step up and want the moment. Right now it doesn’t seem like we want the spotlight shone on whoever,” Vicksburg coach Ryan Grey said. “We just flat-out didn’t hit. That’s the bottom line. We’ve been hitting it better lately and I don’t know what really happened tonight. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board at practice.”

Lunceford might have had something to do with the Gators’ off-night. The junior right-hander mixed a steady fastball with an effective curve to keep batters off-balance and rarely ran into trouble. Only one runner got past second base in the first six innings.

The Gators finally rallied against Lunceford in the seventh, but weren’t able to score. Two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs, before Lunceford struck out John Plummer to end the game.

“We hit the ball hard that first inning and I thought we were really on him,” Grey said. “The pitcher settled in, did a good job of keeping the ball low and away, and we took too many pitches. We let ourselves get in a hole. When he did throw the fastball, we were taking it and you just can’t do that. You’ve got to jump on those type of pitches.”

While the Gators struggled at the plate, Clinton (9-9, 4-1) was hardly on fire.

The Arrows only had three hits against pitcher Clyde Kendrick, and instead used the Gators’ own miscues against them.

Kendrick had nine strikeouts, but walked four batters and hit two.

One of the walks was issued to Cole Stewart with the bases loaded in the second inning to bring in Clinton’s first run. Three more runs scored on wild pitches and passed balls, as a total of eight pitches slipped past the catcher.

Clinton scored twice in the second inning and once in the third and fourth to take the 4-0 lead. It didn’t have a hit after the third inning.

“Tonight, Clyde helped us a little bit to be honest with you,” Clinton coach Eddie Lofton said. “We were in some good situations. We were very selective. I think our guys had a really good plan going in. I was proud of the way our guys competed against such a great pitcher.”

WC 11, Greenville 0

Cody Waddell had 13 strikeouts while pitching a two-hit shutout, Brandon Gates homered for the second time in three games, and Warren Central (12-6, 3-1 Division 3-6A) cruised past Greenville-Weston.

The Viking ace recorded his second straight double-figure strikeout tally after recording 11 in a win over Clinton last week.

Waddell didn’t walk a batter in the game, which went the full seven innings. He gave up a single to Daniel Rawls in the first inning and an infield hit in the third.

Gates hit his second home run of the season in the top of the first inning, then the Vikings blew the game open with three runs in the third and five in the fourth.

Hunter Austin drove in three runs, when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning and with a two-run double in the fourth. Mason Jarabica also had two hits and scored three runs for Warren Central.

PCA 11, Russell 11

Porters Chapel and Russell Christian’s game was suspended because of darkness after 11 innings Tuesday. The teams will resume play in the top of the 12th inning at 3 p.m. Thursday in Vicksburg. They will play a regularly-scheduled game at 6.

Russell rallied from five runs down in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game at 8, then rallied again in extra innings to keep it going.

Talbot Buys had three hits for PCA.