Thursday, May 22, 2008
Second in state
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall Academy learned no lead is safe against a tradition-rich baseball school.
The Patriots jumped to early advantages in both games of last week’s Class AA state championship series. But Central Private (La.) rallied for 10-8 and 6-4 wins to take its fourth consecutive Mississippi Private School Association state crown.
“They (the Rebels) never panicked,” said MA head coach Jimmy Hicks. “That’s what impressed me the most.
“They’re used to being there (in championship games). They have great tradition, and that’s where we want the Marshall program to be.”
Central Private finishes 32-2 and Marshall 22-8.
“I told our guys two months ago that if you believe in yourselves we will be in the state championship series and have a chance to win it,” Coach Hicks said. “We didn’t win it but it was a great season. It was a fun year. These are memories these kids can take with them the rest of their lives.”
Two home runs put MA out front 3-0 in the first inning May 13 but a grand slam in the fourth sparked Central Private’s 10-8 win.
Tyler Childers led off the bottom of the first with a home run. Later in the inning Justin Gray crushed a two-run homer.
The Rebels got one run in the second and then two more in the third to tie the game. Third baseman Joey Brock’s double play ended the threat for more.
The Patriots answered in the bottom of the third. Three hits led to one run. Jake Omedeo’s hit up the middle scored Hunter Bolden.
With the bases loaded, Nick Tate hit a rocket to left fielder that was snagged for the third out.
“We hit some balls really hard but right at them,” Coach Hicks said. “They would have been singles or doubles on any other day. That’s the way baseball goes.”
Then in the bottom of the fourth disaster struck. Central Private’s Jeff Martrain cleared the bases with a homer and gave the visitors a 7-4 lead and the momentum.
“Take that inning away and we win the game,” Hicks said.
The Rebels added a run in the top of the fifth on a bloop hit to right field.
Hicks urged his team to “chip away” at the 8-4 deficit.
Central Private scored a run in the sixth and another in the seventh to move ahead 10-4.
Then in the bottom of the last inning, MA almost chipped the deficit away.
Wesley Harris, Childers and Bolden all walked to start the seventh. Tyler Sanders flied out to right field but picked up the run-batted-in. Gray reached on a error by the shortstop. Omedeo walked with the bases loaded to score a run. Then with two outs, Tate’s hit scored two more.
But that’s as close as the Pats could get.
The Rebels outhit MA 13 to eight. Leadoff man Jacob Fryoux was four for five for Central Private.
Leading the Patriots were Bolden and Sanders with two singles each. Childers and Gray had the homers, and Omedeo and Tate had a hit each.
Chris Gardner threw three innings and took the loss, his first of the season. His record went to 11-1. Shane Campbell pitched four innings in relief. Combined they walked six and hit three batters.
Marshall committed three fielding errors and Central Private one.
Thomas Bourgeois got the mound win for the Rebels.
In a similar pattern to game one, the Patriots surged ahead 4-0 Friday at Central Private only to see the Rebels score four in the fourth and two in the sixth for the win.
Thomas Bourgeois provided the big blow. His two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth was the game-winner, a 6-4 final.
“He had a big hit when it counted,” Hicks said. “When they got guys in scoring position in the series, they cashed in.”
MA scored three in the second and one in the fourth.
The Patriots had four hits. Bolden led off the fourth with a home run, and that was Marshall’s final hit of the game.
Others getting a hit each were Childers, Tate, Omedeo and Gray.
Hicks said Central Private pitcher Gage Wilkinson was “throwing 85 to 87 with a good curve ball.”
“We battled with him in the early going,” Hicks said, “but he got stronger as the game went on.”
Will Patton started for the Patriots and was relieved by Gardner in the fourth. Gardner took the loss.
The Rebels had nine hits. They earned seven walks, two of those being hit batters.
Neither team made an error.
“I know our kids were upset, but we left it all out there (on the field), and that’s what it’s about,” Coach Hicks said. “At the end of the year, only one team is happy.”
The Patriots learned during the season that Hicks would not be returning for a sixth year at MA.
“We overcame a lot of adversity,” Hicks said. “I simply told them, ‘Let’s go win’ and that’s what they did. We had some huge wins this season. I’m very proud of what this team accomplished.”
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