Watkins wows, Warren Central takes Game 1 from Lake Cormorant

Published 12:53 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

Warren Central played seven one-run games during the regular season. Why should the playoffs be any different?

Connor Watkins turned in an outstanding performance on the mound and Maddox Lynch drove in the game’s only run with a single in the fourth inning as Warren Central defeated Lake Cormorant 1-0 Friday in Game 1 of their MHSAA Class 6A baseball playoff series.

The Vikings won for only the second time this season in all of those one-run games.

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“We laughed about it in there, ‘Oh, we’ve been here before.’ Of course the way the seventh started I was like, ‘Here we go again. We’re going extras tonight,’” Warren Central coach Randy Broome said. “We talked about it in our scout meeting, that we’re not going to see anything we haven’t seen all year — whether it’s pitching, or situations we’re facing in the long-inning ballgames.”

Watkins only needed 75 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout. He scattered six hits, walked one batter, and struck out three.

The senior and Copiah-Lincoln Community College signee won for the fourth time in his last five starts. He’s thrown two complete games in that span and only allowed a total of seven runs.

“I really don’t know what to tell you. I found myself. Instead of putting the pressure on myself I went out there and had fun. I just wanted to play the game like I’ve been doing for years, and relax and have fun,” Watkins said.

Watkins has also raised his batting average nearly 100 points over the past month and had a key at-bat in this game as well — by bunting.

After Ryan Nelson led off the fourth inning with a single, Watkins moved him up to second base with a sacrifice bunt. Lynch followed with his RBI single that broke a scoreless tie and wound up standing as the winning run.

“He laid down a bunt and that’s very unselfish,” Broome said. “He jumped his batting average up to almost .400 — .270 or .280ish to .390 in six games. To give him a bunt in that situation, that was a situation to give it. We needed to try and get a run. He gets the bunt down, moves him over, and the guy behind him scores him. That’s what excites me. That’s team baseball. That’s not me baseball. It paid off tonight with a 1-0 win.”
Watkins worked his way out of a couple of small jams throughout the game, and got help from his defense to escape a big one at the end.

Lake Cormorant’s Derrin Randle and Brayden Moberly hit back-to-back singles to start the seventh inning. The next batter, Brayden Collins, hit a sharp grounder up the middle — right to the second baseman Nelson, who was shaded that way.

Nelson fielded the ball a step from the second base bag, stepped on it and threw to first for a huge double play.

Hayden Streiber then hit another ground ball in the hole between first and second base. Nelson, the East Central Community College signee, ran it down and threw out Streiber by a half-step to end the game.

“It feels great. It was a great team win. We all competed. We all did good. I’m very proud of every single one of us. All glory be to God,” Watkins said.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lake Cormorant. Warren Central can advance to the second round with a victory, while Lake Cormorant will try to force a Game 3 back at Viking Field on Monday night.

Broome said getting the first victory at home was huge.

“It always is, especially going on the road next,” Broome said. “That’s what you get homefield advantage for, for winning your district. It gets you in a situation to win at home, and win at home first. Thank goodness we took care of that.”

MHSAA Class 6A baseball playoffs
Game 1 – Warren Central 1, Lake Cormorant 0
Game 2 – Saturday, 4 p.m., at Lake Cormorant
Game 3 – Monday, 7 p.m., at Warren Central (if necessary)

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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