Meridian grabs state title
CHAMPS Meridian Coach Mike Sterling, top photo, awards his team with the Cal Ripken State Championship trophy. Meridian's LaColton Jackson, bottom photo, gets caught in the line of fire as Andrew Blaine, left, Davis Tucker and Tyi Edmonds try to soak Coach Mike Sterling. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
July 10, 2002
Dominant. That's one way to describe Meridian's first four victories in the Cal Ripken 10-year-old state tournament. Meridian had outscored its opponents 59-3 over the first four games.
Often, however, playing so many blow-out games is a problem because the players are not ready when the real pressure comes. Maybe someone should have told that to Meridian.
Meridian handled the pressure perfectly and came away with a 9-5 win over Vicksburg to claim the state championship in front of a huge crowd at Phil Hardin Park.
Meridian went 5-0 in the tournament including two wins in as many days over Vicksburg, the team that put them out last year in the 9-year-old all-stars. With the win, Meridian earns a trip to compete in regionals in Arkansas next week.
Meridian got out of four bases-loaded jams to pick up the exciting victory. Witt Haggard picked up the win for Meridian, going four innings and allowing just four runs.
Meridian started the ball game with a bang, scoring six runs in top of the first inning.
Michael Sterling reached on an error and Davis Tucker was hit with a pitch. Lane Hilliard then came through with an RBI single. Haggard followed with a single to bring in another run and make the score 2-0. After an error loaded the bases, Caleb Melton hit a grounder the short. The throw went to home but was not in time so Meridian went up 3-0.
Meridian was not done, however. LaColton Jackson came through with a clutch two-strike single to right to bring in two more runs. An error in centerfield allowed the final Meridian run of the inning score.
Vicksburg answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Chris Snow had a two-out, two-run single to make the score 6-2 after one.
Vicksburg scored again in the second when Kolby Porter singled and scored on a couple of errors to cut the lead to 6-3. Haggard was able to pitch of out a jam and Vicksburg left three men stranded in the inning.
The Hurricanes of Vicksburg got even closer to Meridian with a run in the fourth. Ryno Martin-nez knocked in a run with a groundout to make the score 6-4. Haggard again pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to hold the Hurricanes.
Meridian got some insurance with three runs in the fifth. Sam Daniel got a one-out single. After a fielder's choice and a walk, Joey Lawn had an RBI single. Another run scored later in the inning on an error and Tucker walked to bring in the third run of the inning.
After two Vicksburg batters reached base, Joey Lawn came in and got Meridian out of yet another bases-loaded jam with two strikeouts and a weak popup.
Vicksburg scored a run in the sixth on an error and had bases loaded with two outs. The tying runner came up to bat and hit a fly to rightfield off of Lawn. Alan Massengill made an incredible sliding grab to get Meridian out of another bases-loaded situation and secure the state championship.
Orange Grove 8
Vicksburg won the first game of the day 14-8 to earn a chance to play Meridian in the championship.
Vicksburg exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning on eight singles. Orange Grove scored four runs in the top of the first inning to take the early lead but Vicksburg took control with the big bottom half of the inning.
The Hurricanes of Vicksburg later scored four runs in the the fifth inning and were one hit away from winning by the ten-run rule.
Orange Grove didn't quit and scored three runs in the top of the sixth before a the final out was made at home plate.
Darrick White and Pierson Waring had two singles each in the win for Vicksburg. Ryno Martin-nez, Stephen Evans and Chris Snow also had two singles each.
Joey Harris had a double for Orange Grove. Joey Lacy had a double and single. Willie Walker led Orange Grove with a single, double and home run.