Gators leave runners stranded, fall 10-4

Published 10:05 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

BRANDON – Vicksburg High was able to outhit the Thompson (Ala.) Warriors, but it couldn’t outscore them.
Thompson sprung into the lead by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, then tacked on two more in the sixth to beat Vicksburg 10-4 Friday in the Mid-Mississippi Classic at Brandon High School.
The Gators (0-3) outhit Thompson 13-6, but had one runner thrown out at the plate and two more at third base. They also stranded six runners in scoring position.
One of the runners dispatched at third was doubly painful. Marc Grace tagged up from third on a deep fly ball and was close to scoring when Jeff Nelson was thrown out for an inning-ending double play.
“We had a couple of base running miscues early in the game that cost us a few runs. Just simple base running,” Vicksburg coach Ryan Grey said. “We didn’t execute the bunt early in the game. We had some opportunities to move some runners over and then that single turns into an RBI instead of just moving a guy up one base and we have to take a chance at the plate.”
Jekori Reed went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for Vicksburg. John Plummer also had three hits, and Josh Sterling hit a game-tying two-run home run in the third inning. The Gators took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth when Reed reached on an infield single, moved to third on a wild pitch and ground out, and scored on a double steal.
Not long after that, however, the roof caved in.
An error, walk and hit batter loaded the bases for Thompson (15-4) in the bottom of the sixth. Hunter Black then unloaded them with a pinch-hit double down the left field line. Drew Avans followed with another double to bring in Black, and also scored later in the inning to give Thompson an 8-4 lead.
Avans went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored. Black added a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to finish with four RBIs in only two plate appearances.
The Warriors tacked on two more runs in the sixth off a walk and two hit batters. Those runs were indicative of the night Vicksburg’s pitchers had. Four VHS pitchers combined to walk eight batters and hit four. Six of those runners came around to score.
“That’ll make 20 walks in three games,” Grey said. “It’s hard to win anything when you walk that many. And they had some timely hits that came back to bite us.”
The loss kicked off a tough stretch of six games in five days for the Gators. They’ll play two more in the Mid-Mississippi Classic today, two in the Ridgeland spring break tournament on Monday, and one final game at Ridgeland on Tuesday.
Although it’ll test his pitching staff, Grey said it was a valuable time of the season to determine who can contribute heading into the division opener at Pearl on March 18.
“When we come out of next week we should have a lineup set. We’ll know who’s going to go. Hopefully our pitching rotation will be set and all of our pitchers will have mound time,” Grey said. “But we keep swinging the bats like we did right there, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”

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About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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