Confederate All-Stars fire up to take Game 1 over Rebel

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The glitz and glamour of the all-star season &045; new teammates, new coaches and new uniforms &045; didn’t last very long for the Confederate League.

That’s all behind it now, just a week into the season thanks to late-night batting practices and workouts. And the first test was passed with little problems &045; a 12-2 win in four innings over the Rebel League in Game 1 of a best-of-three city all-star championship series Thursday at Ballew-Bowlin Field.

Game 2 is at 6 p.m. today with Game 3 to follow if necessary.

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&uot;We’ve had a lot of hitting practice,&uot; Confederate League head coach Al Hall said. &uot;We’ve got a good group of kids, and they’ve practiced with everything they’ve got the last three days. No cutting up. And we’ve got a good group of parents. We had to give a game ball out tonight, and it was hard to do. It was the best game I’ve seen.&uot;

The Confederate League was solid in just about every phase &045; just two strikeouts, key contributions from the bottom of the lineup (all 13 players instead of customary nine) and solid defensive play with just one error.

Which, in turn, made things difficult for the Rebel League.

&uot;I have to give the credit to the other team,&uot; Rebel head coach Tom Middleton said. &uot;They came out ready to play, and we weren’t. It’s that simple. We’ve got to jell as a team, and that’s what we stressed to them. Hopefully we’ll see a different team out here tomorrow.&uot;

The Rebel League had the solid start and jumped out to a 2-0 lead after its first at-bat, but that’s when the Confederate League answered and got things rolling. Dylan Pressgrove doubled in Andrew Moroney and Trevor Williams to tie the score, and Pressgrove scored on a Corey Emanuel sacrifice fly to take the lead.

But the second inning was when the Confederate League really started hitting the ball. Adam Kaiser reached on a walk and scored on an error before Collin Hammons singled in Tyler Brumfield for a 5-2 lead. Then Taylor Strahan &045; hitting in the No. 11 spot &045; doubled in Heath White and Hammons for a quick 7-2 lead heading into the top of the third.

&uot;We have focused on batting practice, and that’s been our No. 1 priority,&uot; Hall said. &uot;We want to hit the ball and wake people up. We’ve spent a lot of time in the batting cage and getting home at 10 o’clock.&uot;

The Confederate League tacked on three in the third off starter Brandon Sanders before he was relieved by Hunter Hatcher. Emanuel singled in Moroney and Williams for a 9-2 lead before advancing to third on an error and scoring later on an error for a 10- lead.

The Rebel League, meanwhile, put runners on but couldn’t get a key hit to drive in the run. Jamon Gray and Avery Middleton each walked and advanced into scoring position in the second with one out before being stranded.

In the third Sanders was left at third base, and in the fourth Avery Middleton and Daniel Guedon were left on base.

&uot;We’ve got a good team,&uot; Tom Middleton said. &uot;We couldn’t get into a rhythm and couldn’t put anything together. But you’ve got to give them credit.&uot;

Other times the Rebel League were just unfortunate. In the second when it had runners in scoring position, Williams made a diving catch on a lazy fly in the infield that shook him up when he hit his head on the ground &045; while still holding on to the ball.

Caleb Upton made a nice snag in right field to start the fourth inning. Williams started on the mound and went three before Hammons pitched the last two innings.

&uot;We jumped back out and played solid ball,&uot; Confederate coach Andy Yates said. &uot;But I’ve got to take my hat off to the other team. They’ve got a good group of boys.&uot;