Vikings’ funk continues in loss

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It’s less than a week into the season, but Warren Central’s baseball team is already dealing with its first slump.

The Vikings misfired on two early opportunities with the bases loaded, then went ice cold after that and lost 3-1 to Brandon on Tuesday night.

It was the second straight loss for Warren Central (1-2), which has only scored one run in its last 11 innings. It lost 9-8 on Saturday against Northwest Rankin in a game that followed the same pattern as Tuesday’s defeat — a promising start followed by a flat finish.

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Brandon reliever Jack Hilton retired 15 batters in a row after inheriting a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third inning. He finished with 11 strikeouts.

“We’re struggling to get the job done when it matters,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “We have to compete better and do the little things right. Striking out that many times is not acceptable. We have to move the baseball. We made it entirely too easy on them defensively tonight. You have to tip your hat to the pitcher as well, he threw really well.”

Similar to the Northwest Rankin loss, when the Vikings blew an 8-2 lead after 2 ½ innings, they had chances to break the game open early Tuesday.

The Vikings loaded the bases with one out in the second inning and didn’t score a run against starter Tyler Davison. They loaded them again with no outs in the third and only got one run, when D.J. Lewis scored on a passed ball.

Hilton took over after Vantrel Reed singled to load the bases in the third. He struck out Caleb Sterling and Sean Daily for the first two outs and got Tyler McRight to fly out to end the inning. He struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced, and 11 of 15 overall.

“It’s huge, man,” Douglas said of the missed opportunities. “You can’t do that against quality teams. It’s a momentum swing the other way. It took the air out of our guys and we didn’t respond after that.”

The flat offensive effort spoiled a strong pitching performance by Logan Stewart. The junior right-hander allowed two runs, on three hits and two walks, in five innings. He struck out four.

Brandon tied the game on an RBI single by Brooks Cooper in the third inning and went ahead 2-1 on a sacrifice fly by J.T. Ginn in the fifth. It added an unearned run in the sixth against reliever Morgan Jarabica.

“Logan Stewart threw great. He competed his tail off. We played much better defensively, we just have to put all three phases together,” Douglas said.

Brandon (2-1) finished with only three hits. Garrett Clarke had a double, walked and scored two of the team’s three runs.

Lewis had two of Warren Central’s four hits and scored its only run.

The Vikings will return to Rankin County later this week with a chance to shake off their early-season blues. They’ll play three games against Alabama teams in the Mid-Mississippi Classic Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“It’ll give us some games to figure out the right formula to win,” Douglas said. “I’m just glad we don’t have to wait a week to get this sour taste out of our mouth. It’s a humbling game, and if you don’t compete for seven innings in this league the end result is not very good.”

Vicksburg 5, Yazoo City 2

Chandler Luke struck out 13 batters in six innings on the mound, and also doubled twice to set up two runs as the Vicksburg Gators (1-2) beat Yazoo City for their first win of the season.

Luke allowed two runs, one earned, along with three hits and two walks. Alfred Barnes pitched the seventh inning to pick up a save. Both of Yazoo City’s runs came in the first inning, and then the Gators regrouped in the middle of the game to pull ahead.

Luke doubled in the third inning, and courtesy runner Rashard Flaggs scored on an error for the Gators’ first run. He also doubled to start a two-run rally in the fifth inning.

In the fourth, one-out singles by Kameron Jones and Jarren McCaplin got the Gators going. Jones scored the tying run on an error, and then Marcus Barnett brought in McCaplin with a bunt single to put them ahead for good, 3-2.

Jones finished the game 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Gators. Gage Ederington also had an RBI.

“I was proud of our effort tonight. We got a great outing from Chandler and was able to come away with a win. It makes the bus ride back that much more enjoyable,” Vicksburg coach Derrick DeWald said.

Vicksburg will play at Franklin County Saturday at 1 p.m., and then hosts Neshoba Central next Tuesday in its division opener.

Porters Chapel 23, Rebul 1

Porters Chapel Academy (4-1) continued its hot hitting by jumping on Rebul Academy for 12 runs in the first inning and then cruising to a four-inning run-rule victory.

PCA has scored 65 runs in its last three games, all victories.

“I’m real pleased with how we’re swinging, for the most part. I like that we are scoring early and putting pressure on the other team right off the bat,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said.

Bailey McMillian led PCA’s onslaught with two hits, including a double, and three runs scored. Wade Dickard doubled twice and scored three runs.

Ryan Collins and Brandon Thompson each had two hits and scored twice, while Brayden Ray doubled and scored three runs. In all, seven of the nine players in the starting lineup scored at least twice.

PCA will return home Thursday to play Hartfield Academy at 6 p.m., and then hosts St. Aloysius Friday at 6 p.m.