Gators fall despite rare home run

Published 7:38 pm Saturday, March 10, 2018

It was the bottom of the fifth inning of Vicksburg High’s 18-5 loss to the Franklin County Bulldogs on Saturday. The game was well out of reach, with Franklin County holding a 16-run lead, but Vicksburg still had some fight left.

Malik Barnes had singled, and now Ty-ron Moore was up at the plate. He took a hard cut at the first pitch, but came up empty. Moore dug into the batter’s box, and prepared for the next pitch. This time, Moore sent the pitch sailing right over the 325-foot sign on the outfield wall for a 2-run homer. 

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“Since I’ve been here, that’s the second home run we’ve hit as a team,” coach Derrick DeWald said. “That’s the first one that we’ve hit out at this park. It was great to see him put a good swing on it, and for that ball to go out for him, and that’s what we’re going to need going forward.”

DeWald loved the energy that Moore’s long ball gave the team. It was even more impressive when you consider Moore was late to join the baseball team, as he was competing with the basketball team in the playoffs until two weeks ago. 

“He’s only been out here two weeks, and he came out and finished it on the mound. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to help us,” DeWald said. “He just needs to get more and more reps, he’s a competitor. We need more guys like that. It was good because it gives us some energy.”

Though the final score doesn’t suggest it, the Gators (1-5, 0-2 Division 4-5A)  were in a tight matchup for the first half of the game. Franklin Country scored three runs on a single, a passed ball and a double through the first three, but in the third inning Vicksburg started to claw their way back into the game.

First, Chris Farrish hit an RBI single that scored Barnes, then Moore scored on a passed ball.

With only one out and runners on second and third, it was the perfect opportunity for the Gators. However, Bulldogs pitcher Jace Watts struck out the next two batters and closed out the inning. DeWald said that was the turning point of the game.

“If we can scratch a run and tie it up or get ahead right there, it’s a momentum changer,” DeWald said.

Vicksburg was still just down one run, but Jacob Clanton crushed a grand slam over the left field wall in the fourth to give Franklin County a 7-2 lead, and it was the Bulldogs’ game from that point forward.

“The thing that hurts us, is we’re giving up too many free bases,” Dewald said. “We had 16 today. We’re just not good enough offensively at the moment to get ourselves out of that situation.”

DeWald said it would have been easy for his team to give up, but was proud of how they played in the final inning.

“We kept fighting, and that’s what I need to see out of this group right now,” Dewald said. “We have to find our identity, and right now we’re struggling with that. We need to get that taken care of. I saw some good things today happen, but at the end of the day we have to fix it on the mound.”