Vikings return to winning ways

Published 10:56 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

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JACKSON — Warren Central made sure one bad day didn’t ruin its whole week.
The Vikings scored four runs in the first inning, seven more in the third, and collected a dozen hits in routing Jackson Academy 13-2 Wednesday in their final game at the Ridgeland spring break tournament.
It was a welcome bounce-back day after WC lost to Germantown and turned in a so-so performance in a win over Brookhaven Academy on Monday.
“It was good to end spring break on a good note, because we all had a sour taste in our mouths from the way we played Monday. That’s not how we play. You’re going to have bad games, but you definitely don’t want to go five days away from baseball with that taste in your mouth,” WC coach Conner Douglas said.
The Vikings reached the quarter pole of the season with a 7-2 record and having won five of their last six. They open the division schedule Tuesday night at home against Murrah, and are happy with the way the season is shaping up.
Warren Central is hitting .311 as a team. Six regular starters are hitting .300 or better, and three are over .400. Seven pitchers have also made multiple appearances on the mound already.
“We have 14 or 15 guys that we’re going to continue to move in and out until we find that formula. And we might not ever find the formula, because we’ve got 14 or 15 guys that are playing really well,” Douglas said. “I like where we are right now. We just have to keep getting better.”
Jackson Academy (9-3) is a perennial contender in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA division, but was little more than cannon fodder for Warren Central on a windy day at Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium. The game was moved there because of wet field conditions at Ridgeland High School.
Hunter Bell had an RBI single to put WC on the board in the top of the first, and later scored on a ground out by John Morgan McRight. Hunter Simrall capped the inning with a two-run single to give WC a 4-0 lead.
It was the eighth time this season that Warren Central has scored at least three runs in an inning, and the third time it’s done it in the first inning.
“I hope that was a good teaching point for them, that when you have a chance to blow it open, go ahead and bust it open because a lot of teams lay down,” Douglas said. “We haven’t done that in the past. We jump on them early and then kind of let them hang around for a while. Today we put the foot on the throat and kept playing.”
Jackson Academy got within 4-2 on David Ford’s RBI single in the bottom of the second inning. WC answered right back, though, by scoring seven runs in the third. Seven of the Vikings’ first eight batters singled, and the other was hit by a pitch. Curtis Ross and Marcus Ragan both drove in two runs, while Cameron Upton, McRight and Mason Jarabica all had one RBI.
The Vikings tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning and won by the tournament’s modified mercy rule.
Simrall finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs to lead a parade of Warren Central players with multiple hits. Ragan was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three stolen bases, Bell was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, and Upton had a pair of singles and scored three times.
“What we’re trying to do is just see fastball and hit it, and that’s what we did,” said WC pitcher Carlisle Koestler, who walked, singled and scored two runs in three plate appearances.
Koestler also pitched three innings, allowing two runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out three.

Pearl 5, St. Al 4
Pearl (7-2) turned a hit batter and two St. Al errors into three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to come from behind and beat the Flashes.
St. Al (2-5) lost its third consecutive game. It committed five errors and dropped a third strike that led to a run. None of Pearl’s runs were earned.
St. Al had taken a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning with an RBI double by Connor Smith and an RBI single by Lane Hynum, but couldn’t hold on. Pearl got a run back in the fifth inning, then tied the game in the sixth when Jeremy Johnson was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a single by Clay Pitman. Zack Prince followed with a ball that went for an error, bringing in two more runs to put the Pirates ahead 5-3.
Pat Murphy’s two-out RBI double in the top of the seventh cut the deficit to a single run, but he was stranded there.
Derek Dolan went 3-for-3 with a run scored for St. Al, which totaled nine hits.

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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