Vikings get timely hits to edge Camden-Fairview in Invitational

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; What was billed as a possible showdown among top pitchers turned out to be just that.

But neither had his best stuff.

It was more a battle of timely hits between Vidalia and Camden-Fairview (Ark.) Thursday night in the second game of the Vidalia Invitational. The Vikings got a couple more key hits than the Cardinals for the 3-2 win, and both pitchers overcame some struggles early to settle into somewhat of a groove.

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&uot;This is kind of a non-typical Vidalia team,&uot; Vikings head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &uot;We’ve been known in the past several years for our hitting. We’re not hitting the ball right now. I blame it some on the weather. We haven’t hit on the field in two weeks. Hitting is repetition, and we’re not getting it right now.&uot;

The Vikings (12-0) finished with just three hits in the six-inning contest, and they fanned nine times against Camden-Fairview left-hander Tyler Whitley, who is a candidate for the Cardinals’ top spot despite being a sophomore.

Vidalia right-hander Barry Bowden, the Vikings’ top pitcher, wasn’t as effective as in the past but got the key outs when he needed them. He struck out 11, but the Cardinals (9-2) have five hits, five men left on base and two runners thrown out in scoring position.

&uot;We had the opportunities in the fifth and sixth,&uot; said C-F head coach Greg Harris, a former head coach at Adams County Christian School. &uot;That kid (Bowden) does a good job. He gets himself out of jams, and that’s what you want out of a pitcher. It was a good high school baseball game. Heck, play it again and the outcome might be different. The big difference was they got the key hits and we didn’t.&uot;

But give props to both pitchers who didn’t crack in some tough situations even when the defense behind them failed. The Cardinals got a homer from Mark Patterson to lead off the sixth to cut the lead to 3-2, and Whitley doubled with one out to bring the winning run to the plate.

By this time Bowden was throwing his curveball for strikes, and he got finished the game off himself. He got Matt Patterson to strike out swinging and Anthony Herndon to strike out looking to end the game.

&uot;He struggled, but being a good pitcher he was able to show his class,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;When he got his curveball over, he was more effective even though his velocity wasn’t where it is. He’s a battler and a competitor. That’s Barry. He’s a quality pitcher. He struggled with his curveball, didn’t have his popping fastball but pitched through it.&uot;

Whitley, might have fared better had the Cardinals not committed three errors at crucial times. The Vikings scored their last run in the fourth when Chris Ensminger reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a bad throw on the play.

Harris opted to intentionally walk Trey White, and Mac Ware singled to score Ensminger for a 3-1 lead.

The Vikings got two in the second after Hank Marling led off with a double that bounced off third base. He went to third on a bad pickoff throw and scored when he beat the throw to the plate on a grounder by Jeff Anderson.

Anderson went to second on an error and scored on a White single for a 2-0 lead.

&uot;It all started with the ground ball down the third-base line,&uot; Harris said. &uot;It kind of snowballed. They’ve got a good club. This will toughen us up for conference. They’re not ranked No. 1 in 2A for no reason. Vidalia got the big hits we didn’t get.&uot;

The Vikings had some fielding problems of their own, but Bowden was able to shake them off. In the second an error put runners at second and third with two outs, but Bowden got a strikeout to end the inning.

In the fifth a dropped fly ball put runners at second and third with two outs, and Bowden got behind in the count 3-0 on the next batter.

But he came with three straight strikes to end the inning.

&uot;They’re a good team,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;Any time you play a 5A team, you better get ready to play. We’ve got to get better on defense. That’s been all year. We can’t rely on Barry striking out 11 or 12 a game. We’ve got to have support. One thing it’ll do is bring his pitch count down.&uot;