Warren Central finishes magical baseball season as Class 6A runner-up

Published 9:00 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

PEARL — Two games. Two close losses that could’ve gone either way. The MHSAA Class 6A championship series embodied the game’s old phrase, “That’s baseball,” but it didn’t do much to soothe the pain for Warren Central.

George County’s Canyon Reeves hit an RBI infield single in the top of the seventh inning to bring in the go-ahead run, and the Rebels beat Warren Central 3-2 Friday to win the MHSAA Class 6A championship at Trustmark Park.

George County (30-4) won its first state championship since 1997. It swept the series after also winning 3-2 in Game 1 on Wednesday, and scored the winning run in both games in its final at-bat.

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“To get here is so hard. I’m trying to get them to understand that,” Warren Central coach Randy Broome said. “I can’t take the pain away, but be proud of what we did to get here. It’s a grind and you’ve got to do a lot of things right to get to this moment and get to this point to play for a title.”

Between them, the two teams only led at the end of four of the 14 innings played in the series. Warren Central took a 2-1 lead at the end of the fourth inning in Game 2 after Hayes Loper hit an RBI single and Cade Fairley scored on a balk, but it was short-lived.

Jacob Eubanks doubled and scored on a passed ball in the top of the fifth to tie it, and then George County went ahead in the seventh.

Alex Wade singled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Reeves chopped a ball up the middle. Warren Central second baseman Ryan Nelson kept it from getting to the outfield, but had no play at first and Wade scored to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead.

The Vikings got the tying run to second base in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t get him home. It was the eighth one-run loss of the season for Warren Central (19-13).

“For some reason we’ve got a bunch of those one-run games where we couldn’t quite get the hit,” Broome said. “We had runners out there in scoring position and when it’s time to make a big play we made a couple tonight and the other night, and then there’s a couple we didn’t make. That’s your game. That’s your 3-2 scores in two games.”

Wade was 3-for-3 for George County, and Reeves pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in addition to getting the game-winning hit.

Lester Martin and Cole Autrey had two hits apiece for Warren Central, and pitcher Brooks Willoughby racked up 11 strikeouts in six innings.

Although they settled for the state runner-up trophy rather than the championship one they wanted, the Vikings tried to take solace and pride in what they accomplished this season. They reached the state championship series for the first time since 2001, and advanced beyond the second round for the first time since 2004.

“It was a journey,” Nelson said. “I love all of my brothers. Love all of them like we’re blood. It was a long road. It was obviously a long road ahead of us. We got here, we gave it all that we had, we left it all on the field, for sure.”

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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