Natchez High School third baseman Denzel Washington  reaches for the ball as Franklin County’s Antonio Christmas steals the base during Franlkin County’s 15-2 win over  Natchez High. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez High School third baseman Denzel Washington reaches for the ball as Franklin County’s Antonio Christmas steals the base during Franlkin County’s 15-2 win over Natchez High. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NHS gets split in tournament

Published 12:01am Sunday, February 24, 2013

NATCHEZ — Two days of rain didn’t stop the determined Natchez High School coaching staff from doing everything it could to have an opening day Saturday afternoon.

After rain dampened Chester Willis Field Thursday and Friday, NHS head baseball coach Brian Kossum worked diligently Friday night and Saturday morning to get the field dry enough to play on.

And the hard work paid off, as NHS was able to host Franklin County and Jefferson County high schools in the Natchez High School Classic baseball tournament. The hometown Bulldogs took a 15-2 loss to the visiting Bulldogs in Game 1 but rebounded nicely to top the Tigers 10-1 in Game 2.

Two errors in the top of the second inning by Natchez High School helped Franklin County get out to an early 6-0 lead, a lead the visiting Bulldogs would never relinquish.

Natchez High managed one run in the bottom of the second on a passed ball, but Franklin County got the run back in top of the third when Graham Cowart scored on a groundout by Kade Clanton.

The visiting Bulldogs added two more runs when Bryce White scored on a single by Benard Selmon and Hoby Mullins came home on a passed ball.

It looked like a single by Davion Ward would send home Dalvion Jackson in the bottom of the third, but Ward was called out for using an illegal bat. Jackson would later score anyway on a passed ball, making it 9-2 Franklin County after three.

Franklin County added four runs in the fourth and two runs in the fifth.

Jefferson County shortsop Christian Day reaches for the catch as Nathcez High School’s Delvion Johnson safely steals second base during their game Saturday. Natchez High beat Jefferson County, 10-1. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Jefferson County shortsop Christian Day reaches for the catch as Nathcez High School’s Delvion Johnson safely steals second base during their game Saturday. Natchez High beat Jefferson County, 10-1. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

“We let it get away from us,” Kossum said about Game 1. “Franklin County came out and played well, but we should have been in that game a little bit more than we were. A couple of errors in the outfield, and things just kind of went downhill really quick.”

Franklin County head coach Brent Calcote said he was pleased with his team but stressed that there was still plenty of work to do.

“It was a good win,” Calcote said. “It’s always good to get a win, but we’ve still got a lot of improving to do. We’ve got to get better.

“We started kind of slow (on offense), but toward the end, we started swinging the bat a little better, but there’s still a lot of improvement on that end, too, that we need to make.”

The game lasted five innings because of a one-hour-and-45-minute time limit. Clanton got the win for FCHS, while Denzel Washington took the loss for NHS. Franklin County improved to 1-0.

In Game 2, a five-run first inning propelled the Bulldogs against Jefferson County High School, and the Tigers managed just one run in a four-inning game off an RBI single by Princeton Dunbar in the second inning.

Davion Ward went 3-for-3 in the contest, including a double that scored Derrian Johnson in the bottom of the second and made it 6-1 NHS. Ward singled in two more in the bottom of the third, and Aaron Wesley and Travez Lyles both scored on passed balls, making it 10-1 NHS.

Jackson got the win in Game 2 for NHS, while Dunbar took the loss for Jefferson County.

“We were able to come in here with a little more life and put the ball in play more,” Kossum said. “Getting a lead like that enabled us to stay in our game and do what we wanted to do instead of falling behind and having to make up (ground).”

Jefferson County coach Kawaski Johnson took the blame for the loss.

“I put a struggling pitcher on the mound, and we had a few errors that messed us up, and I think we’ll go back to the drawing board and take care of those errors,” Johnson said. “We didn’t lose because they outplayed us, we lost because of the errors we made.”

Jefferson County fell to 0-1, while NHS rose to 1-1.