Natchez All-Star tee ball base runner Kyle Rushing, right, slides safely into home plate to score a run before McComb Nationals catcher JaMarcus Pittman, left, could apply a tag during the game on Saturday evening. Natchez fell to the Nationals, 19-18. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez All-Star tee ball base runner Kyle Rushing, right, slides safely into home plate to score a run before McComb Nationals catcher JaMarcus Pittman, left, could apply a tag during the game on Saturday evening. Natchez fell to the Nationals, 19-18. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

McComb Nationals beat Natchez tee ballers in walkoff win

Published 12:01am Sunday, July 7, 2013

NATCHEZ — Home field advantage is an advantage for a reason, as the Natchez Dixie Youth tee ball All-Stars found out Saturday evening

In a back-and-forth game between the McComb Nationals, the Nationals took advantage of batting in the bottom half of the sixth inning, rallying from being down three runs to win 19-18.

The Nationals scored two runs off fielder’s choices to start the inning, then Jadon Cooper belted a shot all the way to the right field fence to score the final two runs of the game, securing the walkoff win for the Nationals. In a game that saw the lead change several times, it almost seemed like whoever batted last was destined to win.

Members of the Natchez All-Star tee ball team huddle together before the start of the game against the McComb Nationals on Saturday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Members of the Natchez All-Star tee ball team huddle together before the start of the game against the McComb Nationals on Saturday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

“That’s a flip of the coin at the beginning of the game,” Natchez coach Ryan Marchbanks said of getting the last at-bat. “Both sides have their advantages, but today the home team won.”

Natchez was looking to get three quick outs after storming back to take an 18-15 lead in the top of the sixth after training 15-12. The inning was highlighted by an inside-the-park home run by Coleman Carter that scored two runs.

The host team took a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first as Alex Pollard and Blake Perkins came home on a double by Landon French. French later scored on an error, and Carter crossed home plate on a single by Cooper Wells.

The Nationals cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom half of the frame, and neither team scored any runs in the second inning. In the top of the third, Kyle Rushing extended Natchez’s lead 5-3 by scoring on a single by Perkins. Perkins came home on a single by Carter, and Tristan Fondren drove in two runs on a single, making it 8-3 Natchez.

The Nationals scored three more runs in the bottom of the third, but it was the fourth inning where McComb took its first lead. The Nationals tallied seven runs to jump ahead 13-8, with the inning ending only because of the seven-run inning limit.

But Natchez went to work in the top of the fifth to take back the lead, with Carter and Perkins scoring on fielder’s choices and Fondren coming home on an Austin Helbling single. Hayden Beasley also had an RBI single, making it 13-12 McComb.

The Nationals added two more runs off a single and an error in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead 15-12 after five.

After the loss, Marchbanks said he was proud of the way his team fought back after the Nationals’ seven-run fourth inning.

“That team right there made anybody proud,” Marchbanks said. “The kids fought hard, they practiced hard, McComb has a good ball team, and it just came down to the last inning.”

The Natchez players showed often showed good baserunning instincts, knowing when to run at the right time, and Marchbanks said it was something the coaches stressed to the players.

“We talk to them on the corners every time,” Marchbanks said. “Each kid is a little different, and we still make some mistakes, and they still have room for improvement. One of my kids missed a bag today that cost us a run, but they’re 5 and 6, and that happens. You don’t get on them, you just tell them what they did wrong, and not to let it happen again.”

Natchez will play again at 2 p.m. today.