Warren Central takes first loss on a stunning walk-off

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

FLOWOOD — If there is one thing Warren Central has learned during the first week of the 2023 high school baseball season, it’s that there is plenty of truth in the old saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

For the second time in its first four games, Warren Central was involved in a walk-off finish. Unlike the first, which it won, it was on the wrong side of this one after blowing a seven-run lead and losing 8-7 to Theodore (Alabama) in the Mid-Mississippi Classic on Thursday.

Warren Central defeated Germantown with a walk-off hit last Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We already had this conversation after the weekend,” Warren Central coach Randy Broome said. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. You’ve got to show up every game ready to play, and play every game pitch to pitch. It’s preached in this program, just like any other program around. Unfortunately, we had to find out the hard way that it can happen.”

Kylan Landers and Maddox Lynch each hit a two-run home run for Warren Central (3-1), and Lynch pitched five strong innings.

Lynch allowed one unearned run and five hits, and struck out six batters. He pitched his way out of a couple of jams and exited after the fifth inning with a 7-1 lead.

“He’s a bulldog. He’s got that mentality, and it showed with some big (strikeouts) with runners in scoring position, or they’d have gotten back in this thing a lot earlier,” Broome said of Lynch

After Lynch left the game, Theodore (1-1) put together a massive — and unusual — comeback in the last two innings. It scored seven runs without a hit, and while only putting two balls in play.

Three walks, two wild pitches and a double steal led to two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Then, in the seventh, the Bobcats took advantage of some wildness by the closer Landers to steal the victory.

Landers walked the leadoff batter and hit four of the next six, with two strikeouts mixed in. A wild pitch brought in a run, cutting it to 7-6, and moved runners up to second and third with two outs. Zyddrick Smith then hit a grounder to second base that kicked off the heel of Connor Watkins’ glove and rolled into the outfield.

Both runners scored, on the only ball the Bobcats hit fair in the entire inning, as they celebrated an improbable victory.

“It’s a fine example of a game’s not over until the last out’s made. It’s going to be a great teaching moment,” Broome said. “We were 3-0 and riding good, things were going well. There’s some things we’ve got to work on. Putting folks away, obviously. Playing until the last out. At the end of the day, we’ve got to do a lot better job of staying in the game, staying in the moment, focusing on this pitch.”

If there was a silver lining for the Vikings, it’s that this was only the fourth of approximately 30 games this season and did not hurt anything other than their pride.

They also won’t have to dwell on it long before getting a chance to shake it off. Thursday’s game was the first of three in three days at the Mid-Mississippi Classic. The Vikings will play Alabama’s UMS Wright Friday at 4 p.m. and Mississippi Class 6A rival Ocean Springs Saturday at 10 a.m. Both games are at Madison Central High School.

The annual Mid-Mississippi Classic features nearly 20 teams from Mississippi and Alabama in a three-day event. Games are played at Northwest Rankin, Madison Central, Brandon, Germantown and Clinton.

“I talked to them in between innings and felt the intensity go away. It’s something we’ve got to work on. With the older ballclub that we’ve got, the discussions we’ve had all year, hopefully this is a huge wake-up call,” Broome said. “This bunch has got a chance to be pretty good. But you’ve got to play the game to the last out, no matter who you’re playing and no matter what the score is.”

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.

email author More by Ernest