Forest Hill sends Natchez to winless campaign in division

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Even on a clear night such as Tuesday, rain clouds still managed to hover above Natchez High’s baseball team.

It’s like a cartoon where everything around the Bulldogs is as dry as can be; yet dark, ominous clouds hover above Natchez wherever it goes.

Natchez finally busted out of its hitting slump against Forest Hill Tuesday, but errors in the field and on the basepaths delivered another loss, 16-9.

Email newsletter signup

The bottom half of the Bulldogs’ lineup was a combined 4 for 7 at the plate, but baserunning hiccups and five defensive flubs spelled doom once again for Natchez (5-14, 0-6), as it closed out Division 6-5A play.

&uot;Our biggest problem is we lose focus real quick,&uot; Bulldogs head coach Charlie Williams said. &uot;They forget about what’s going on, especially on defense. They take their eyes off the ball or rush themselves. They’re not taking their time.&uot;

The knockout blow, unquestionably, came in the Rebel half of the fourth. Natchez starter Matthew Henderson had two outs in a 7-0 affair when Corey Moncrief stepped to the plate.

Moncrief, who had homered in the first for the game’s first run, fell behind 1-2 as Henderson had him fooled with some off-speed pitches.

Henderson got the big southpaw swinging at a pitch in the dirt for strike three and the inning’s final out. However, Natchez catcher C.J. Wright couldn’t squeeze the wild pitch before it went between his legs, and Moncrief bustled down safely to first base.

The mistake proved costly, as cleanup hitter Anthony Triplett followed with an RBI single, as Moncrief scored all the way from first when the ball trickled under the glove of right fielder Keymond Williams.

&uot;We had that bad fourth inning after we already had three outs,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We got the strike out, but (Wright) didn’t block up.&uot;

Triplett scored after Greg Anderson knocked him in with a double in the left center field gap.

When it was all said and done, 12 batters appeared at the dish with seven runs crossing off five hits, pushing the lead out to 12-0.

&uot;I thought we swung the bats pretty well,&uot; said Rebel head coach Tommy Groves, who has five freshmen in the starting lineup. &uot;(Henderson) was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff, but once we got our timing, we hit him well.&uot;

Unlike previous nights when Natchez might have closed up shop, the Bulldogs answered with four runs on their own.

Robin Blake knocked in the first Natchez run with a single, and then the other three runs scored off a wild pitch and two double steal situations where Forest Hill catcher Michael Spann’s throws were off the mark at second.

The inning could’ve been more impacting, however, if it hadn’t been for a devastating mistake at third base.

Aaron Ratliff struck out badly for the inning’s first out. As Ratliff headed to the dug out, Keymond Williams, who was at third, assumed it was the final out of the inning and strolled for the dugout.

Rebel starter Shane Burt, who went the distance, fired to third base where Keymond Williams was tagged out before he got back to the bag. Jason Hayes ended the inning with a ground out.