Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Standing on the grass at Chester Willis Field Monday night, one enveloped what a fickle game baseball can be.

In shallow left field, just off the dirt by third base, stood the victors allowing the moment to soak in.

In right field was the opposite end of the spectrum &045; the team that fell just a run short.

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To say Cathedral (16-8) lost the 9-8 decision and the second round MHSAA playoff series two-games-to-one to Mize (27-3) would not be accurate.

The Bulldogs, who advanced to play at Union Thursday, just salivated over it more than the Green Wave.

&uot;We didn’t deserve to lose and neither did (Cathedral),&uot; said Mize head coach Winston Mullins as he shook his head in disbelief. &uot;All year long my team has never quit and again tonight. They are 14 special young men.&uot;

Up 8-5, Cathedral was bidding to close the door on the Bulldogs in the top of the seventh, but defensive woes that plagued the Greenies during regular season losses came back to haunt them Monday, especially in the final Mize at-bat.

Bulldog leadoff hitter Tommy Bishop reached first when Michael Blain didn’t stay down on a grounder.

After Cathedral reliever Jeremy Davis walked the next batter, Mize pitcher Adam McAlpin, who homered in the first, laced a double past Wyler Murray at third to score Bishop.

Justin Ainsworth plated two more runs to tie the game 8-8 when his grounder resulted in a throwing error by Garrett Jones.

Ainsworth, who moved to second on the throw home, scored the go-ahead and game-winning run when Joseph Adcock’s flair hit among Blain, Preston Hicks and Rodney Daggett.

&uot;We went to sleep in the fifth inning when we got a four-run lead and laid back,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;Mize fought their way back into it.&uot;

Daggett, who came into Monday’s game 3 for 7 in the best-of-three series, gave the Green Wave their first two runs of the game when he singled home Wyler Murray and Andrew Kaiser in the bottom of the second to tie the game at two.

After going ahead 5-2, Daggett led off the Cathedral fourth with a hustling triple in which he hugged the bag at third with a headfirst slide ala Pete Rose.

The senior right fielder was one of three Green Wave to score in the fourth and was again on deck during Cathedral’s last gasp when he hopelessly watched Preston Hicks ground out to end the Greenies season and Daggett’s high school career on the diamond.

&uot;I had all the confidence in the world in Preston, but being on deck and a senior I wanting anything to happen,&uot; Daggett said. &uot;I hope this teaches all my teammated coming back not to screw around. Never let up or lay back on any team.&uot;

Amazingly enough, Josh Melton pitched the last three outs for Mize in the seventh, despite throwing more than 150 pitches through the first two games.

Cathedral expected to see a lot of curves from both pitchers and they got them, especially with Melton getting two of the final three outs on harmless pop outs.

&uot;We didn’t know how much (Melton) might have, but I asked him in the seventh if he wanted the ball and he said, ‘Yes sir,’&uot; Mullins said. &uot;We wanted to dance with the one that brought us here. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue on. We’ve had a good year, but we’re not ready to open the mothballs just yet.&uot;

Brent Tosspon got the start for Cathedral and depsite serving up a two-run shot to McAlpin in the first pitched exceptional, retiring the Bulldogs in order twice with a total of six and eight pitches, respectively.

Beesley was pleasantly surprised with Tosspon and liked the way Davis came on before giving way in the seventh to Te Riley, who threw nine pitches for strikes and closed the floodgates from any more damage harming Cathedral.

&uot;We only gave up five hits and they scored nine rund so obviously our defense didn’t play well like it has been lately,&uot; Beesley said.

&uot;I though we were going to pull it through,&uot; Daggett added. &uot;I didn’t think this was going to happen. A good team will do that to you, though.&uot;