Vikings get boost from beating Gulfport

Published 8:20 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

The early part of Warren Central’s baseball season has been highlighted by a couple of exciting games against Mississippi’s A-list programs that did not go its way.

On Thursday, the Vikings finally got to walk away on the right side of things.

Shane Lewis and Landan Stewart both homered, and the Vikings scored five runs in the fifth inning to knock off Gulfport, 10-9, in the Battle at the Beach tournament on the Coast.

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It was the first loss of the season for Gulfport (12-1), last year’s Class 6A runner up, and the second win for Warren Central in four games so far against other state title contenders. The Vikings (7-4) had lost close games to Northwest Rankin and Madison Central, and beat Brandon 1-0 in the first month of the season.

“It felt great. We’ve been in so many of those games over the last year, and for us to get over the hump on such a good ballclub is big for us,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “This team has shown so much resiliency this season and (Thursday) was no exception. It was a heavyweight fight back and forth. I’m glad we got the final swing in.”

The Vikings showed plenty of resiliency within Thursday’s game. Gulfport scored five runs in the second inning after WC had jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and knocked ace Aaron Greene out of the game after only 1 1/3 innings.

Greene, an Ole Miss signee, allowed five unearned runs. He walked three batters and struck out three, and threw 53 pitches.

Vantrel Reed doubled in the third inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Caleb Sterling, and Stewart belted a solo homer with two outs in the fourth to tie it up.

“That was very big for not only getting momentum back on our side, but great for our confidence and mentality going forward,” Douglas said.

Gulfport regained the lead on a homer by Beckett White, but Warren Central’s five-run fifth inning put it ahead to stay. Reed had an RBI double, and two errors and a wild pitch spurred the rally along.

Christian Oakes pitched two shutout innings to lock down the victory. Oakes walked two batters, but did not allow a hit and struck out three.

WC had two more games on the Coast, Friday night against West Moore (Oklahoma) and Saturday against Memphis’ Christian Brothers. It returns to division play Tuesday at Greenville.
Douglas said Thursday’s game was the kind that can have lasting effects.

“I feel like we grew up a lot, with so many bad things that happened during the game,” Douglas said. “The guys never lost composure, stayed the course, battled back and competed all night. This is a very fun group of players to coach.”

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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