Meridian edges Lumberton
IN THE DIRT – Bentonville's Ryan Lee slides past North Randall County's Cole Stephens to score during the 11:00 game at MCC during the Babe Ruth 14-year-old Southwest Regional Tournament. Full tournament coverage on page C6. PHOTO BY CARISA MCCAIN / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Austin Bishop/EMG regional sports director
August 3, 2002
Meridian manager Larry Vick was certainly relieved Friday night after his team survived a scare with a 5-3 win over a scrappy Lumberton team in the first round of the 2002 14-year-old Southwest Regional.
Meridian will now play at 11 a.m. today against Nederland (Texas) which received a first-round bye in the nine-team, double-elimination tournament.
Vick said playing the last game on Friday and the first on Saturday wasn't going to be easy, but added that his team should be ready for the challenge.
Meridian never trailed in the game, but Lumberton had fought back from an early 3-0 deficit to cut it to 4-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
That's when Cordera Eason came off the bench to be one of the first-game heroes for Meridian.
After the first batter in the bottom of the sixth in the seven-inning game flew out to center, Cory Hart reached on an error by the shortstop. Ricky Gardner then moved Hart to second with a sacrifice.
That's when Vick made the move to the bench and brought Eason into the game. The big right-hander delivered with a double to left-center to put the winners up by two.
Starting pitcher J. Stoddard picked up the win for Meridian, pitching into the fifth inning, before Gardner came on to retire the last seven batters of the game to earn the save.
Stoddard sat down the first eight batters he faced, before Lumberton loaded the bases with two walks and a single in the top of the third. Stoddard then came up with the big strikeout to end that threat.
Meridian took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to infield singles by Nathan Peden and Stoddard, two errors by Lumberton and an RBI ground out by Clark Bullock.
Drew Snider reached on an error to lead off the third for Meridian, stole second and later scored on an usual double play to make it 3-0. With Snider on third and Tyler McMullen who had singled on first and Drew Edwards at the plate, Vick called for the hit-and-run. Edwards hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first, allowing Snider to score. McMullen
continued on to third on the play but was called out on a bang-bang play.
Lumberton scored two unearned runs in the fourth, with one coming on an RBI ground out by Kaylon Sibley. Cordero Rogers and Zach Cobb scored for Lumberton in the inning.
Lumberton could have scored more runs in the inning but Peden, the Meridian third baseman, made a nice play to his left to force out a runner at second to end the inning with Meridian leading 3-2.
The winners came right back to score a run in the bottom of the fourth. Hart reached on an error and later scored on a double by Justin Baylor.
Lumberton cut it to 4-3 on an RBI single by Jamiah Holder in the fifth.
Meridian finished the night with six hits, including two singles from McMullen. The host team made two errors, while Lumberton had three hits and committed seven errors.
Being the host team was good for Meridian because the local team didn't have to travel, but that also meant that the squad didn't get a chance to play any tournament games to prepare for the Southwest Regional.
Vick said winning that first game in a double-elimination tournament is the key.