Vikings hammer Clinton to even season series
Published 12:30 am Saturday, March 30, 2019
CLINTON — Considering the stakes and atmosphere any time they get together, the regular-season series between Warren Central and Clinton might as well be a playoff series.
Now it’ll be decided with a winner-take-all Game 3.
Farmer Abendroth worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and went on to throw five shutout innings, Landon Bull and Wesley Ricks each had two hits and two RBIs, and Warren Central hammered Clinton 10-1 on Friday night.
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The Vikings’ victory evened the season series at a game apiece and set that decisive Game 3 for April 12 in Vicksburg. The winner will clinch the Region 4-6A championship and a first-round bye in the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs. Both teams have already clinched playoff berths.
“It’s big for the guys to come back and rebound. It’s not that we played bad the other night. We just made a couple of mistakes and it cost us,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said. “They’re a good ballclub, so it was big for us to come in and not only win at their place but against a Division I arm. He was upper 80s, low 90s all night and the guys stayed in, stayed the course and competed.”
Clinton took the first game between the longtime rivals, 5-4 on Tuesday, and could have clinched the region title with a win on Friday. It had a chance to blow the game open early, too.
Abendroth walked the first two batters and then gave up a hit to the gap in left center field to Dallas Dyar. The lead runner, Christian Johnson, is one of Clinton’s fastest players but is battling a knee injury. He had to hold at third base on a ball he normally would have scored easily on, and it caused a traffic jam on the basepaths behind him.
Dyar, expecting an easy double, was caught in a rundown between first and second base and tagged for the first out of the inning. A couple of pitches later Johnson had to hold at third again when a wild pitch got past WC catcher Caleb Sterling.
Abendroth hit Jalen Cowan to load the bases but then settled in. He got out of the jam without giving up a run and wound up retiring 14 of the next 17 batters he faced.
“I was listening to Coach Douglas and Caleb behind the plate. They really calmed me down,” Abendroth said.
Abendroth left the game after giving up a leadoff single to Cowan in the bottom of the sixth inning. The LSU signee allowed four hits and two walks — none after the first inning — and struck out four.
Abendroth has not allowed a run in 10 innings over his last two outings.
“He’s been really good the last couple of starts with the mental side of his game. He’s been able to flush it and get back in there. He competed his tail off tonight,” Douglas said.
Clinton had a Division I pitcher of its own on the mound with the Southern Miss signee Dyar. His game went the opposite way of Abendroth’s, though. After starting with three shutout innings, he was tagged for three hits in the top of the fourth as Warren Central broke through to take a 4-0 lead.
Bull hit an RBI single and Ricks a two-run single to key the rally.
The Vikings added three more runs in the fifth, two of them coming across via RBI doubles from Sterling and Shane Lewis, to blow it open. They added to the lead in the sixth and seventh innings as well, and the game was never in doubt after the fifth.
Clinton helped out by committing eight errors in the game. None of the six runs Dyar allowed in four-plus innings on the mound was earned.
“It’s a different ballgame if they score in the first inning,” Douglas said. “We did a really good job of not letting the thing snowball. We kept our composure, did a good job and got out of it, and then made them pay whenever they made a mistake or two.”
If there was a negative to be found for the Vikings, it’s that they’ll have to wait two weeks before seeing the Arrows again rather than being able to immediately follow up on the momentum generated from this victory.
“It’s tough, but it’s part of baseball. It’s the fun part about it. We get to start working on some things that we’ve struggled with. We’ll get better and they will too,” Douglas said. “You wouldn’t want it any other way. Both of you playing your best at the end of the year and playing a game that matters.”
Warren Central will host a mini-tournament on Saturday, with three other high-profile teams paying a visit to Viking Field. Germantown and Oxford will start things off at 11 a.m., and at 1:30 p.m. Warren Central will play Oxford.
Lafayette will then roll into town and play a split doubleheader with Germantown at 4 p.m. and Warren Central at 6:30.
Central Hinds 11, Porter’s Chapel 1
Prentice Brown homered, Hunter Williams allowed one hit and one run in five innings on the mound, and Central Hinds run-ruled Porter’s Chapel Academy (6-8, 2-4 District 3-AAA) to complete a season series sweep on Friday.
Ranson Oaks went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored for Central Hinds, and Carson Turner was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Beau Coumbe also drove in two runs. The Cougars scored three runs in the top of the second inning and then five more in the third to blow it open.
Leon Simms walked and scored PCA’s only run on a wild pitch in the second inning. Cole Pittman hit a one-out single in the third for the Eagles’ only hit.