Gators stumble in tune-up for Pearl
Published 10:30 am Tuesday, April 7, 2015
FLOWOOD — Their season-best four-game winning streak a fading memory, the Vicksburg Gators started a critical week by trying to pick up the pieces.
Against a powerful Northwest Rankin squad, it was more like playing 52 pick up.
Cannon Gibbs went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, and also threw a two-hit shutout as Northwest Rankin beat Vicksburg 11-0 Monday afternoon.
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“Maybe we got the big head a little bit. I don’t know. But we’re going to be fine,” Vicksburg coach Derrick DeWald said. “We really didn’t play bad Saturday against Lawrence County. We really didn’t play too bad here. A couple of times we walked and hit guys, and they made us pay for it.”
The loss was the third in a row for the Gators (4-8), and an inauspicious start to their biggest week of the season. They’ll play Pearl twice — tonight at Pearl and Friday at Bazinsky Field — with their Division 4-5A championship hopes hanging in the balance.
The Gators can win the title by winning their last four division games. A loss in any of those not only means Vicksburg can’t finish better than second, it also lines up a potential second-round playoff series with undefeated Oxford (18-0).
“If we win out, we’re in good shape,” DeWald said. “The way I look at it, from here on out, especially in district, you have to take it one game at a time. We have to win each game to stay alive. (Tuesday), we’re looking at it as series tied, winner takes it.”
The Gators got a taste of what an Oxford series might be like on Monday against Northwest Rankin (17-1), which is one of the best teams in Class 6A this season.
Zach Boone had a two-run single as the Cougars jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. A two-run double by Gibbs in the third helped stretch it to 7-0, then Damione Grayer delivered an RBI triple in the fourth as Northwest tacked on four more runs.
Gibbs retired the Gators in order in the top of the fifth to end the game by the mercy rule less than 90 minutes after it started.
“Sometimes you get caught looking ahead. Hopefully if we were looking ahead, we’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” DeWald said.
Despite the lopsided final, DeWald did find some positives.
Sophomore Gage Edgerington threw four-plus innings while pitching for the third consecutive game, which helped save some of the rotation for the division games with Pearl.
Senior Tyler Smith also returned to the mound. Smith has been in the lineup in center field, but hasn’t been able to pitch since he cut his thumb two weeks ago.
VHS had some chances against Gibbs. They left two runners on in each of the first two innings before Gibbs buckled down and retired the last 10 batters he faced.
“That was good to see Tyler get out there and get a little work in, because we’re going to need him down the stretch,” DeWald said. “I really liked what I saw today out of my sophomore, Gage. I really liked what I saw Saturday out of my freshman D.J. (Lewis). That’s the future of this program, and for them to get some varsity time is big and it’s good for them.”
Warren Central 4, Cathedral 0
Josh Lieberman had two hits, Colton Norris drove in four runs, and four Warren Central pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout of Cathedral.
Layne Tedder, Aaron Greene and Lieberman all threw two innings apiece, and Tristan Lowry pitched the seventh. They combined to walk three batters and struck out five.
Norris’ two-run single was the key hit in a four-run fifth inning that provided the Vikings with all the offense they needed. Zach Cox also had an RBI single during the fifth inning.