Lady Vikes hang on vs. VHS

Published 1:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

Warren Central pitcher Darby Gain (10) applies the tag to Vicksburg’s Brianna Knox for the final out Friday as WC’s Katie Channell, left, points to the ball and umpire Carl Carson looks for it. WC beat Vicksburg 6-5. Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post

Warren Central pitcher Darby Gain (10) applies the tag to Vicksburg’s Brianna Knox for the final out Friday as WC’s Katie Channell, left, points to the ball and umpire Carl Carson looks for it. WC beat Vicksburg 6-5. Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post

In a span of seconds, Darby Gain’s heart jumped into her throat and her feet jumped for joy.

After Gain uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the bottom of the seventh, the ball squirted away up the third base line. Vicksburg’s Brianna Knox — who had been on second — tried to hustle home with the tying run.

Gain took the throw from teammate Megan Stewart, blocked the plate and applied the tag to end the game and preserve Warren Central’s 6-5 victory over its archrival.

“Adrenaline was everywhere,” Gain said. “(First baseman) Katie (Channell) was there and I was there, and I didn’t know who she was going to throw it to. So I was hoping I was going to get it and I went for the tag. My adrenaline is still going.”

The final play was a fitting ending to a wild and sloppy game at Bazinsky Park.

Warren Central (9-0) committed three errors and had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the second inning. Vicksburg (5-5) committed five errors, and had two runners thrown out at third and another at home.

“The biggest thing is we threw the ball around in a couple of innings and that’s what scored their runs,” Vicksburg coach Brian Ellis said. “We made them pay a couple of times, but we got a little overaggressive ourselves defensively trying to make too many things happen.”

The decisive sequence in the game was worthy of its own blooper reel. After WC’s Kasey Cortezie delivered a two-run single to tie the score at 3 in the fourth inning, Lexi Burleigh reached on an error and tried to go to second.

Cortezie, who had gone to third on the hit, sprinted home as the ball was thrown to second base. The ball skipped into center field, allowing Burleigh to move up another base. She then scored on Brooke Patterson’s RBI single to give the Lady Vikes a 5-3 lead.

“We were trying to tell them just to be aggressive and if they see a gap in the defense, just to go. As long as they’re not just being dumb about it, we’ll take it,” WC coach Dana McGivney said. “I didn’t think it would work quite that well. I thought maybe we’d score one off it. Three was a bonus.”

Kori Screws singled and scored after a pair of WC errors in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-4, but another Vicksburg error in the seventh led to a needed insurance run for Warren Central. The Missy Gators also kept misfiring on the basepaths.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gain threw a wild pitch that went to the backstop and got away from the catcher Patterson. Vicksburg’s Morgan Callendar, who was on third base, couldn’t get a read on it, however. As the ball sat in the dirt, Callendar hesitated and stayed at third. She was eventually stranded there.

“If they’re not reading the ball in the dirt or a pitch up, and don’t come off the bag hard, you don’t know where it’s going to kick. If she goes and the ball doesn’t get by the catcher back here, she’s out,” Ellis said.

In the seventh inning, Vicksburg had a runner caught stealing at third base for the second out. Chandler Ellis and Faith Thomas then reached base on a walk and single, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position.

On Gain’s second wild pitch of the inning, Ellis scored easily to get the Missy Gators within a run. Patterson’s throw from the backstop to the plate got away from Gain, and Knox tried to score the tying run.

Stewart, who was backing up the play, alertly picked up the ball and flipped it back to Gain. The pitcher blocked the plate and held on to the ball as Knox slid in headfirst.

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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