Gators rebound with win

Published 11:26 pm Saturday, April 7, 2012

After playing three tough division games in three days, Vicksburg needed a lift Saturday afternoon at Bazinsky Field.

The Gators got it from the bullpen, as three pitchers combined on a one-hitter, and the offense that bounced back with 10 hits to beat Lawrence County 7-3.

The win moves Vicksburg to 10-7 going into the final week of the regular season. Again, they’ll face a daunting week with four games, starting with Tuesday’s divisional clash at Clinton. The Gators then host Warren Central on Thursday at Bazinsky Field before wrapping up with Brandon and Yazoo City.

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First-year coach Ryan Grey was glad to see his team come back from Friday’s 13-1 loss to Clinton, which dropped the Gators back to third place in the division at 4-3.

“We bounced back good today,” Grey said. “Lawrence County is a solid team but we hit the ball and moved guys around. We had to have some young guys come through for us on the mound and Jekori (Reed) came back after lasting about two innings against Greenville. He was absolutely huge for us today.”

Reed was knocked out of Thursday’s game against Greenvile-Weston after giving up nine runs. Vicksburg, however, rallied from an 11-2 deficit to win 16-12. Still, the energy used up cost them against Clinton.

When Gator relief pitcher Nic Clay had to exit in the fourth inning Saturday after aggravating his hip flexor, Grey had to ask Reed to step up. Reed got a pop out to end the fourth and then threw three scoreless innings to wrap up the win.

“He needed just 16 pitches over his first two innings, so we just left him in there,” Grey said.

Vicksburg’s offense scored at least one run in each of the first five innings to go up 7-3. They scored two in the first off a delayed steal of home and an errant throw. A second error brought home A.J. Stamps in the second inning for a 3-0 lead.

That was a good cushion for Vicksburg starter Alex Thomas, but he ran into a problem in the top of the third. With a runner on first, Lawrence County coach Corey Keyes thought Thomas balked. No call was made, but Thomas apparently said something to Keyes.

Grey went out to talk to Thomas. He did not get the response he wanted, pulled him, and brought in Clay.

Clay gave up a hit and an RBI fielder’s choice to Matt Patterson, but got out of the inning with a fly out to right. He got two quick outs in the fourth before walking the next two batters to end his day, setting up Reed to close it out.

The Gator bats helped as Cameron Cooksey had a pair of hits and scored on singles by Michael Rorher in the third inning and Josh Sterling in the fourth.

Cooksey said it’s been a while since he’s played this much baseball in such a short window.

“Not since tournament ball when I was 10 or 11,” Cooksey said. “The first two games just drained us of energy, but we didn’t want to lose like that to Clinton.”

The Gators’ final run came in the fifth when Chris Williams doubled and scored on Lamar Anthony’s flare into right.

Lawrence County (13-8) got its lone hit from Jordan McCaffrey, and also drew eight walks.