Warren Central shrugs off funk, beats Clinton

Published 11:28 am Thursday, April 12, 2012

CLINTON — Warren Central snapped out of its late-season funk Wednesday night. Whether it was in time to save its division championship hopes remains to be seen.

Cody Waddell threw a one-hitter, Brandon Gates tripled and scored two runs, and the Vikings beat Clinton 4-1 to stop a four-game losing streak.

Warren Central (14-10, 5-3) won the season series against Clinton and can still claim the Division 3-6A title by beating Vicksburg tonight at Bazinsky Field, combined with a Clinton loss at Greenville-Weston. WC coach Josh Abraham, however, was happy just to get a win and build some momentum heading into the playoffs.

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“We got a great pitching performance, scored enough runs, were aggressive at the plate. I don’t care what seed we are. We go over there and play hard tomorrow and it doesn’t matter. At this point in time, it’s all about us playing well all the way through the rest of the season,” Abraham said. “When you come out here and you make a statement like this, on a night like this, against a quality team, that’s what you’ve got to do. Right now, we’re right where we want to be.”

Clinton (12-11, 6-2) will win the division title with a victory over Greenville, regardless of what happens in the WC-Vicksburg game. By virtue of its season series victory, Warren Central owns the tiebreaker over Clinton. Both teams, as well as Vicksburg (11-8, 4-4), have clinched playoff berths. Clinton can finish no lower than second, and Vicksburg no better than second, but Warren Central can still be anywhere from first to third depending on the outcome of tonight’s games.

“The blue team over there gave us a present last night,” Clinton coach Eddie Lofton said, referring to WC’s loss to Greenville on Tuesday. “I don’t know if that hurt us or helped us because our mental game was not there tonight.”

The Vikings jumped on Clinton early Wednesday, showing a spark that had been missing for much of the past 10 days. Two errors by backup shortstop Tristin Wilkinson led to two unearned runs for WC in the top of the first inning, and a third error allowed another run to score in the third inning. Gates also led off the third with a triple and scored on a base hit by Hunter Austin.

Warren Central committed two errors of its own in the bottom of the third, leading to an unearned run for Clinton. Waddell worked his way out of trouble, though, and didn’t allow a runner past second base the rest of the game.

Waddell finished with eight strikeouts, walked one batter and hit two. The only hit he gave up was a single to Austin Pevey in the second inning.

“(Waddell) commanded the fastball and was able to throw the slider for strikes. He really brought it tonight. He elevated his game. His intensity and tempo was great and he didn’t let little things bother him. It was just a phenomenal effort,” Abraham said.