Thursday, March 22, 2012
Patriots go 1-3 in Oxford Tournament
By BARRY BURLESON
Playing four baseball games in less than 24 hours turned out to be a tall task for Marshall Academy last week.
The Patriots went 1-3 against much larger public schools Tuesday and Wednesday in the Oxford Spring Break Tournament.
Their first game versus Lafayette was set to begin at 6 p.m., yet it started closer to 8. Then the Patriots played the nightcap versus Southaven – in place of host Oxford. It started at 10:08 p.m. and ended at midnight.
MA was back the next day for 11 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. contests versus South Panola and Center Hill.
“I made some bad decisions putting us in a situation where we couldn’t play very well,” coach Bart Jenkins said. “We should not have played that late game (Tuesday night) and we would have been more rested. Then when we did, I should have played a different lineup Wednesday (in game three).
“No excuses, but we were tired.”
The Class AA private school Patriots opened the tournament with a 5-3 come-from-behind win over Class 4A Lafayette.
“We put it all together in that one,” Jenkins said.
Aaron McAlexander went the six-inning distance for the pitching victory. He struck out nine, gave up four hits and walked five.
MA had eight hits. Getting two each were Elgin Lafever, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Vince Hoyt.
The Pats trailed 3-0 going to the top of the fifth. MA picked up one run when they loaded the bases and Matt Rappa was hit by a pitch.
McAlexander quickly retired the Commodores in the bottom of the fifth.
Then in the top of the sixth, MA scored four. Hoyt got things started with a hit up the middle. Jacob McMinn walked and Tyler Cook laid down a bunt to move the runners to second and third. Dakota Dailey then slapped a single to right center for two runs. Lafever and McAlexander followed with hits, the latter knocking in Dailey. Lafever later scored, too, on a Lafayette error.
McAlexander struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth, and after a double and a walk, forced a groundout to end it.
The Patriots got just two hits off Vance Tatum, a talented left-handed pitcher for Class 6A Southaven, and fell 4-1.
MA scored first in the top of the first – thanks to a Charger error.
Evan Hickman held the Chargers scoreless until the bottom of the third, when they went up 4-1 with five hits and a Patriot error in the inning.
No more runs were scored by either squad.
Tatum had 11 strikeouts for Southaven, three coming in the top of the seventh.
Hickman struck out six in four innings of work. He gave up six hits. Andy Burleson threw the fifth and sixth innings for MA – giving up one hit and no runs.
“I thought we played great baseball Tuesday night – in both games,” Coach Jenkins said.
The Patriots, getting home in the early morning hours and returning to Oxford later that morning, took it on the chin, 11-3, to Class 6A South Panola Wednesday.
The Chargers scored 11 runs on 11 hits.
Marshall had three runs on seven hits.
Cook took the pitching loss. Chesley Hurdle and Tucker Fant tossed in relief.
Hoyt continued to swing a hot bat. He had a double and a single. Cook also had a pair of hits.
The Patriots out-hit Class 5A Center Hill Wednesday afternoon but couldn’t push enough runs across. They lost 9-4.
MA had 10 hits to the Mustangs’ nine. Center Hill also committed three errors.
“The baseball gods were not on our side in that second game Wednesday,” Coach Jenkins said. “Things happened to take the game away from us.”
It stayed tight until the sixth, when Center Hill scored four runs on one hit and two Marshall errors to ice the win.
Getting two hits each for the Patriots were Fitzpatrick, Hickman and B.W. Langston.
Cole Davis was the losing pitcher. He gave up eight hits, struck out two and walked seven. Fitzpatrick pitched the sixth.
Jenkins said he thinks some pitching depth was added last week during the tournament – particularly mentioning good relief work by Burleson and Fant.
“One thing we had a question mark about turned into a positive,” he said.
The Patriots (7-7) return to District 1-AA play this week – hosting Indianola Academy Tuesday and then going to Indianola Thursday at 4 p.m. for a twinbill. They’re 2-0 in the district.
“District play is really where it counts,” Jenkins said. “We’re coming out of spring break at .500 against some tough competition, and we have a chance to make a run. This week needs to be a good start.”
They play at St. George’s in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday at 11 a.m. (B-team and varsity) and then go to North Delta next Tuesday, March 27, at 4 p.m. (B-team and varsity).
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