Warren Central’s rainout Game 3 with Northwest Rankin rescheduled

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, May 3, 2016

After winning to pull even in their playoff series with Northwest Rankin, Warren Central’s players and coaches spent all weekend thinking about Game 3.

Then they got to Viking Field on Monday afternoon and realized they’d get another 24 hours to mull it over.

The deciding game of the MHSAA Class 6A baseball playoff series between the Vikings and Cougars was postponed Monday by rain and wet field conditions. It was rescheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to face either Tupelo or Starkville in a quarterfinal series later this week.

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“We’re going to get out here and do some things in the cage and reset our sights on tomorrow,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said before his team practiced Monday. “It’s nothing new for us. All season it’s been rainout and refocus. Rainout and refocus. An extra day of rest isn’t going to hurt anybody. If you can’t get up and get ready for a Game 3 in the playoffs, you don’t need to be out here.”

So far, each team has won on the other’s home field. Northwest Rankin took Game 1, 10-0, last Thursday. Warren Central won 3-2 the following night to even the best-of-three series. The threat of rain on Saturday led Douglas and his counterpart at Northwest Jeff McClaskey to wait out the weekend, only for more showers Sunday and Monday to keep the field wet and unplayable.

Warren Central has a tarp to cover the infield, but Douglas said the importance of the game led to the mutual decision to wait.

“You don’t want Game 3 decided on a wet field. You want it played in ideal conditions,” Douglas said. “You also don’t want to get anybody hurt. Some of these guys have futures to think about.”

The immediate future for both teams is to overcome a fellow contender for the Class 6A championship. Northwest Rankin (21-9) won 10 games in a row before Friday’s loss and is a perennial power. Warren Central (21-7) went undefeated in Division 4-6A to win the division title for the second consecutive season.

Now, one of them will go home for the summer after tonight’s game.

Douglas said winning Game 2, besides keeping the season alive, gave the Vikings a shot of adrenaline after their embarrassing loss in the opener.

“Our guys are confident. They’re like a shark or a bear when they taste blood,” Douglas said. “They see how good they are when they play their game.”

The extra day of rest should allow both teams to reset their pitching staffs, although to what extent remains to be seen. Game 1 starters Taft Nesmith of Warren Central and Luke Files of Northwest Rankin threw 85 and 72 pitches, respectively, and might be available for at least a few innings on short rest.

Both teams might be able to dig into their bullpens to be effective, though. Northwest Rankin and Warren Central each have seven pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings this season.

Almost all of them will be available in some form or fashion if needed, Douglas said. He added that he wasn’t sure which pitcher he will start.

“I imagine they’ll throw a lefty or the same kind of order they used for Game 1,” Douglas said. “But it’s Game 3, so you know how it is. You’re going to pull a guy at the first sign of trouble because there is no tomorrow.”

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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