Defense keys Warriors in Cup opener

Published 11:50 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

Vicksburg Warriors catcher Ben David fields a throw to the plate as the Vicksburg Express' Decedric Brown scores a run during an 8-year-olds' Governor's Cup game Friday night at Halls Ferry Park. The Warriors beat the Express, 14-9. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Vicksburg Warriors catcher Ben David fields a throw to the plate as the Vicksburg Express’ Decedric Brown scores a run during an 8-year-olds’ Governor’s Cup game Friday night at Halls Ferry Park. The Warriors beat the Express, 14-9. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Although coach-pitch baseball games are famous for high scores, the real secret to the game is defense. The team that can get a few quick outs and short innings usually wins.

It was a secret the Vicksburg Warriors learned well Friday night.

The Warriors threw a runner out at the plate, turned a double play, and got a 1-2-3 inning in their 8-year-olds’ Governor’s Cup opener against the Vicksburg Express.

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The strong defense gave them time to generate enough offense to take a 14-9 win at Halls Ferry Park.

“We were able to minimize the big inning, keep ourselves in the ballgame, and manufacture runs in every inning. That was the key,” Warriors coach Josh Fairley said. “I thought the kids got off to a real good start since they hadn’t played in a tournament since the end of June.”

Cade Fairley had a double for the Warriors, while Connor Watkins and Austin O’Brien each had a triple to key a couple of big innings.

The Warriors scored six runs in the bottom of the first, and five in the fourth to take a 14-9 lead.

The Warriors’ defense, however, was the difference. They held the Express to two runs or less in five of the six innings, and no runs three times.

Taylor Osborne fielded two ground balls back to the pitcher’s mound as part of a 1-2-3 second inning, then caught a pop-up and threw to first to complete a double play in the fourth.

In the sixth inning, with the Express threatening, Osborne’s teammates came up with a gem. On a hit to left field, Watkins threw to third baseman Cole Autrey, who in turn made a perfect relay throw to catcher Ben David to cut down a runner hustling home from second.

The second out of the inning was quickly followed by the third, and the Warriors were able to preserve their win.

“They caught the ball better than we did. They made routine plays and we missed some. We’ve got to do better at the routine plays,” Express coach Michael Brown said.

The 8-and-under tournament will continue — and conclude — today as the rest of the Governor’s Cup kicks into high gear.

The Warriors and Express will each play one more pool play game before the elimination round begins at 3 p.m. The 8-year-olds’ championship is set for 6 p.m. at Halls Ferry Park’s American Field.

Only three games were played Friday night, but 30 are scheduled for today and 12 more on Sunday.

The only other division in action Friday was the 14-year-olds, and it didn’t provide a smooth start for one of the host teams.

Cade Pinnix had seven strikeouts in three innings on the mound, and the Mississippi Hawks used nine walks and hit batters to take a 14-4 win from Eagles Baseball.

Eagles Baseball is a team made up of junior varsity players from Porters Chapel Academy. The Hawks are a conglomerate team with athletes from several cities, including Vicksburg.

The Eagles got off to a good start, taking a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but quickly fell apart.

The Hawks scored twice in the top of the second to regain the lead, then blew it open with six runs in the third inning.

Vicksburg resident D.J. Lewis scored two runs for the Hawks, and Vicksburg native Collin Magoun had two hits — a single and a double — and an RBI.

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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