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Joyner lifts Knights past rival Tigers

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
March 28, 2001
Miles Joyner continued his heroic trend of winning baseball games for the West Lauderdale Knights Tuesday night.
The Knights rallied from a late-game 2-1 deficit when Joyner's RBI single brought in Bo Davis for the winning score in the Knights' 3-2 victory over Division 5-3A rival Southeast Lauderdale.
The Joyner clinching baseknock followed his game-winner on Friday that gave third-ranked West (16-1) an 8-7 come-from-behind win over Meridian.
Although the Knights didn't trail going into the bottom half of the seventh, they did in the sixth, by virtue of a clutch two-RBI double by Tiger third baseman Jonathan Russell.
The hit plated Southeast pitcher John Coker and shortstop Andy Landrum to give the fired-up visiting Tigers a 2-1 lead.
One could also point to the mound mastery from both Todd Doolittle and John Coker.
The West starter struck out 13 batters on the evening, but the right hander Doolittle (12-3) did encounter some control problems in the latter innings on the way to a total of six walks.
His base on balls issued to Coker and Lilly set the stage for the Russell moment, but for the Tigers (5-5, 5-2 in 5-3A), who were seeking to forge a tie for first place with the Knights in division play, the happiness was short-lived.
Coker, who earlier in the season, hurler a no-hitter against Carthage, seemed to be sitting pretty against the West batters. Going into the bottom of the sixth, Coker had only allowed one hit in the second, and West's lone run a Van Wilson score from third off a passed ball in the two frame was the only other damage.
In fact, Coker struck out the side in the fourth, fanned two in the fifth and had a Brad McKee flyout to center before he began to falter.
After Trent Posey caught part of an inside curve in the arm, Wilson struck out. Doolittle then helped himself with an RBI drive, before being called out at second to end the threat.
It was enough, however, as West seemed to regain its confidence with a 2-2 tie. In the seventh, Doolittle set down the first two batters he faced before Billy Harper reached on the third strike that Joyner missed. He beat the throw to first, but was latter gunned down at third.
Davis then came up in the last of the seventh, facing SEL's Andrew Lilly and dribbled a dangerous grounder toward second, which he surprisingly beat out to set up the finish.
Overall, Coker recorded eight strikeouts, while only walking three and giving up two hits through six. Lilly, pitched the bottom of the seventh to absorb the loss.
Etheridge said it was tough to have a team the caliber of West Lauderdale on the ropes, only to see them get off.
The Tigers won't have too long to ponder what might have been, as they step out of division play to face Wayne County on the road Friday.
West hosts Neshoba Central in a makeup game.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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