Vidalia’s big inning dooms St. Thomas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; The playoffs are times to roll the dice anyway, but Vidalia’s Vikings weren’t planning on this type of situation.

Senior leadoff hitter Trey White was at the park Monday with his right arm in a sling due to a weekend jet ski accident, and for the first time in quite a while the Vikings had to juggle their lineup and find another leadoff hitter.

Word spread fast, and the Vikings had to act fast with Monday’s playoff game. So they bumped up No. 2 hitter Barry Bowden to the top spot, and his solo

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homer sparked a seven-run first inning as the Vikings dumped St. Thomas Aquinas, 10-2.

The win puts the Vikings playing at home Thursday against Riverside, a 15-4 winner over Episcopal.

&uot;We had three different lineups,&uot; Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &uot;I guess we made the right choice. We had some hits, but we could have put it away early. We didn’t get some key hits. The kids showed a lot of mental toughness with Trey getting injured. I don’t know &045; we may change it again. This time of year you roll the dice.&uot;

The seven-run first inning put a big hurt on the Falcons, who held the Vikings to three runs after that but couldn’t muster enough runs to turn the tide. The Vikings tacked on another in the fourth and two big insurance runs in the sixth.

&uot;With Trey being hurt and everything, we really wanted to play for Trey,&uot; VHS catcher Chris Williams said. &uot;Barry at leadoff was kind of odd, but Barry came through for us. We’re pumped up. We want to go back to the championship game.&uot;

The seven-run first &045; all with no outs &045; dropped a big hammer on the Falcons, who pulled starter Barrett Morgan before he could register an out. Bowden led off the inning with a solo homer to left field, but the worst was yet to come.

&uot;Vidalia has a good ball club, and at 26-0 &045; you can’t give up a seven-spot to a team that’s that good,&uot; St. Thomas head coach John Legoria said. &uot;He (Morgan) has been my ace all year, and that was the first time he’s thrown on three days rest. It was the first time that he didn’t have it. Bad coaching decision, I guess.&uot;

Morgan walked two and gave up a single to Reid Simpson to load the bases, and Ty Eicemann’s single and Chris Ensminger’s walk scored two more and kept the bases loaded.

Then Brett Hinson deposited one over the left-center field wall for a grand slam and a 7-0 Vidalia lead.

&uot;Brett Hinson’s slam &045; that was huge,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;That took the fire out of them. That was big. We needed players to step up, and they responded. The kids have really played hard this year. They’ve played hard and practiced hard.&uot;

The Falcons yanked Morgan for Allen Waddell, who got out the inning and held Vidalia to one run in the next four innings. Problem was, though, the Falcons had troubles at the plate against Vidalia hurlers Barry Bowden and Mac Ware by getting just five hits.

Bowden struck out eight in four innings, and Ware got in a jam in the seventh but shut the door with a strikeout.

&uot;We’re a young ball club, and we just haven’t hit well all year long,&uot; Legoria said. &uot;It finally hurt us. Seven runs in the first inning hurt us. For us to come back against a team with a pitcher like Bowden, it’s a tough task. But I give my kids all the credit in the world. This game could have been over in five.&uot;

Waddell homered off Bowden in the second inning, and the Falcons got a run in the fifth when Sean Ahrend singled in David Brignac. They threatened in the seventh by putting runners at second and third with no outs, but a fly ball to right wasn’t deep enough to score a run.

Clinton Verbeek was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Waddell tapped a grounder to third that Eicemann went home with for the second out. Ware then got Morgan to strike out to end the game.

&uot;Neither one of our pitchers had command of their curveball today, and both were a little erratic,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;But they pitched through it.&uot;

Vidalia had trouble at times against Waddell in the middle innings. He came with mostly offspeed stuff, and the Vikings got one in the fourth when Eicemann was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before a strikeout ended the inning and stranded three.

But the Vikings got the two insurance runs in the sixth as Chris Ensminger doubled in Simpson and a St. Thomas error on a double steal got Simpson home.

&uot;He had a pretty good breaking ball,&uot; Williams said. &uot;At the end he started letting it hang a little bit. We got two good hits off him (in the sixth). But they’ve got a tough team, and they ought to be tough next year.&uot;