State power Oak Grove beats Vikings

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Warren Central had the lead and another chance at a signature early-season win. It wound up letting both slip through its fingers.

Oak Grove used two bases-loaded walks and an RBI single by Alex Ward to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, and went on to beat Warren Central 3-2 Tuesday at the Adidas/Rex Sports Deep South Tournament in Sumrall.

“It’s a tough loss for sure, but we killed ourselves. Their pitchers made the pitches but we didn’t do our jobs when we had runners in scoring position,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “We looked at way too many fastballs. Championship teams find ways to win these type games. We are right there, we just have to take that next step.”

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It was Warren Central’s second one-run loss in five days to a team that reached the state finals last season. Oak Grove was the Class 6A runner-up. On Friday, the Vikings lost 3-2 to defending Class 5A champion Oxford.

The close calls against two of Mississippi’s best teams have had their encouraging side, but Douglas said the Vikings (5-3) need to win a few games like that to join the state’s elite.

“That’s the next step in being a championship-caliber team. We have put ourselves in the position, we just have to get the big hit or just do a job whether it be a ground ball or sac fly,” Douglas said. “We have to find a way to get the job done.”

Like in the loss to Oxford, Warren Central took an early 2-0 lead against Oak Grove.

John Austin Burris drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the second inning, and he singled and scored on an error in the top of the fourth. Burris finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.

Oak Grove pieced together its rally in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead, however.

Two walks and a single loaded the bases, and Reed Simon drew a four-pitch walk to put the Warriors on the board. Ward’s single tied the game, and Mack Pickering drew another bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2.

“We couldn’t throw a strike and then they got a cap shot to fall,” Douglas said. “We walked four batters that inning, walked two runs in. That’s not our identity and we can’t do it.”

The bad fourth inning derailed a strong start by freshman pitcher Farmer Abendroth. He allowed one hit and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings, but gave up two of the four walks in the fourth and took the loss.

Abendroth took a no-hitter into the fourth inning.

“Abendroth threw fantastic for us. He gave us a chance to win,” Douglas said. “I’m very excited about the freshman. It was a tough environment against a great team and he threw well.”

Lawrence County 14, Vicksburg 0

Brandon Bullock threw a four-inning no-hitter to lead Lawrence County to a win over Vicksburg (1-4) at the Lawrence County spring break tournament.

Lawrence County (5-2) scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, three in the second and five in the third and won by the 12-run mercy rule. The Gators committed nine errors.

Bullock struck out eight batters. Vicksburg’s only baserunner was Latonio Brown, who drew a walk leading off the second inning.

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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