Warriors explode at plate, upend VHS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; Those black, menacing Vidalia jerseys couldn’t hold all the tears that accompanied their bearers after the Vikings were humbled Tuesday, two victories shy of perfection.

Twenty-seven and a cruel, ugly one. Vidalia, Class 2A’s top team since the start of the season, without the services of ace Barry Bowden on the mound, stood idly by and watched as St. Frederick strolled to a 12-1 five-inning semifinal playoff victory.

The Warriors (25-14) play Newman at Episcopal School at 6 p.m. today for rights to be Class 2A’s state champion. Newman defeated Ouachita Christian School 6-5 in eight innings in the early game Tuesday.

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&uot;You hate to end the season this way. The kids left everything on the field. We played well for 27 games,&uot; Vikings head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &uot;We could’ve laid down in the fourth and didn’t. I would’ve like to have brought the trophy home, but that’s part of baseball and a part of life.&uot;

A Warrior explosion in the top of the fourth inning was David’s overpowering blow to Goliath. Twelve batters came to the plate and not one of them got cheated.

Viking starter Mac Ware got chased from the game when he walked David McGhee at the top of the order with one out. Sophomore Brett Hinson came in relief to close the door, but walked Martin Zender to load the bases.

Warrior right fielder Ben Vetsch, who clubbed two moonshots in the second and fourth, was out at home when pitcher Justin Vincent reached on a fielder’s choice after Zender.

But the snow started forming when Hinson lost cleanup man Clint Thibodeaux to a walk for the fourth run of the game. It kept gathering speed as it rolled along with back-to-back-to-back singles to push the score out to 8-0, before Vetsch snake-eyed the Vikings with a three-run jack for an 11-0 lead.

&uot;Once (St. Fred’s) started hitting the ball, they never stopped,&uot; said Bowden, who couldn’t pitch because of a sore pitching shoulder. &uot;They deserve all the credit for hitting the ball.&uot;

Hinson got one back for the Vikings with a two-out double in the bottom half that barely scored Chris Ensminger, but with Zender eventually scoring after a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth and Vincent’s dominant performance, the writing was on the wall for the Vikes heading into the bottom of the fifth.

The team that 10-run ruled a host of teams this season, including its 3-2A district opponents, was staring down the other end of the barrel Tuesday night.

&uot;The kid had us handcuffed tonight,&uot; Hoffpauir said of Vincent. &uot;If the ball gets through the infield in the first inning, we score two and tie the game. You can tell that took the wind out of our sails.&uot;

After the Warriors scored their two men in their order in the first off a two-run double from Matthew Marks, Vidalia tried to respond by advancing runners to second and third with two outs.

Third baseman Ty Eicemann laced a shot that appeared to have eyes for left field, but had its path was predestined to the web of Eicemann’s counterpart Thibodeaux, who made a spectacular diving grab to keep Vidalia at a goose egg.

&uot;To take nothing away from Vidalia, but I thought our guys are at the spot where they needed to be at this part of the season,&uot; St. Fred head coach Todd Moore said. &uot;At this point you need to have good pitching, good defense and be able to swing the bats well. We did all three tonight.&uot;

Ironically, Vincent, who was on the receiving in of an 8-2, two-hit performance from Bowden when these teams met in Vidalia back in April, surrendered only Hinson’s double and a harmless Hank Marling single in the second.

The Vikes attempted to extend the game further in the bottom of the fifth, with Bowden and Reid Simpson occupying the corners and cleanup man Chris Williams at the plate. Williams battled to a full count after getting behind 0-2 to Vincent, but ultimately struck out looking, as the Vikings did the same while the Warriors celebrated their colossal upset.

&uot;We didn’t have any pressure on us, and we all came out and played real well tonight,&uot; said Vincent, who is just 5-5 on the year but maintains an earned run average less than 3.00. &uot;We knew that if we brought our A game we had the potential to become state champs. I can only thank my teammates for going out and doing their jobs, while I tried to do mine on the mound.&uot;