Livin’ on the edge

Published 11:30 am Friday, March 7, 2014

Warren Central’s John Morgan McRight celebrates after driving in two runs with a single in the first inning Thursday against Germantown. WC went on to win, 6-5.

Warren Central’s John Morgan McRight celebrates after driving in two runs with a single in the first inning Thursday against Germantown. WC went on to win, 6-5.

Warren Central’s Marcus Ragan hits a single in the third inning Thursday against Germantown. Ragan went 3-for-4 and drove in the winning runs with a two-run single in the sixth inning.

Warren Central’s Marcus Ragan hits a single in the third inning Thursday against Germantown. Ragan went 3-for-4 and drove in the winning runs with a two-run single in the sixth inning.

Vikings beat Germantown in another nail-biter

FLOWOOD — A week into the high school baseball season, one thing is already certain about this year’s Warren Central team: Win or lose, at least it won’t be boring.

After the Vikings blew a four-run lead in the top of the sixth inning Thursday, Marcus Ragan put them back in front with a two-run single and WC went on to beat Germantown 6-5 in the opening game of the Mid-Mississippi Classic at Northwest Rankin High School.

The Vikings improved to 3-1 with the win. In all four games, the winning runs have been scored in the sixth inning or later.

“They say baseball takes 10 years off your life. I believe it,” WC coach Conner Douglas said. “You want to play in games like that, especially early on. You get your guys character and they learn how to compete at the end. That game right there, they could have tucked tail after the sixth, but they didn’t. That’s what we’ve done all year. We battled in the late innings. We’ve got to learn, when we have a chance to put them away to put them away. But I couldn’t be more proud of them for competing in the last inning.”

For a long time Thursday, it looked as if the Vikings would have an easy time for once. Carlisle Koestler had an RBI single and John Morgan McRight drove in two more with another single in the first inning. McRight brought home another run with a ground ball that turned into an error to make it 4-0 in the bottom of the third, and Koestler was breezing through Germantown’s lineup on the mound.

Koestler, WC’s ace, allowed two hits and struck out five in five shutout innings. He left the mound with the game seemingly in hand, but things unraveled in the sixth.

Germantown loaded the bases on a hit batter and two walks, and scored its first run when Koestler — who had moved to second base — bobbled a likely double play ball. Hunter Shows followed with a two-run double to right field. A sacrifice fly by Vicksburg native Rhett Hasty tied the game, and pinch-runner Tucker Calhoun scored on a passed ball to put the Mavericks in front, 5-4.

“We threw guys out there that hadn’t thrown yet. We’ve got to get them innings. I guess just a big game, cold night, the mound is different so it took some adjustment. Give credit to them, too. They squared some balls up and we just didn’t make the plays,” Douglas said.

WC, though, drew on its growing experience in close games to cobble together a comeback of its own.

Mason Jarabica drew a one-out walk, and Zach Cox followed with a pinch-hit double. Both runners scored on Ragan’s opposite field single to put the Vikings back in front, 6-5.

“It feels good just to help the team get over the hump and get the lead. It was a good time to do it,” said Ragan, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. “We love scrapping it out. We want to get ahead and stay ahead, but sometimes it’s not always like that. We just want to scrap it out. It tests our character and resiliency and we see how we respond to adversity. I like that about us.”

Reliever Brooks Boolos atoned for a blown save Tuesday night against Brandon with some nifty glove work in the seventh on Thursday. After walking the leadoff batter, Boolos snagged a line drive comebacker out of the air and tossed to first for a double play. He then struck out Jackson Jones to end the game and get his first save of the season.

“They showed a lot of heart right there,” Douglas said. “They could have folded up shop and they didn’t.”

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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