Natchez 13s keep rolling with another win

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 5, 2005

GREENVILLE &045; Who would have thought this? Of the final four teams left in the Mississippi 13-year-old Dixie Boys state tournament, here’s Natchez.

The only undefeated team remaining.

Natchez delivered in the bottom half of the sixth with four runs to take a 7-5 win over East Central Monday night. The win puts the Natchez team playing at 6 p.m. today against Petal &045; a team it beat in the first round of the tournament &045; with one win guaranteeing it a spot at the Dixie Boys World Series.

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&uot;We’re not getting much respect up here,&uot; Natchez head coach Mike Lazarus said. &uot;They’re all gunning for us. The kids &045; they’re not going to lose. They’re a good bunch of kids. A lot of times they let things get away too long, but they always come back to win. They find a way to win.&uot;

Natchez trailed 5-3 after 5 1/2 before Natchez had what its coach termed a &uot;prayer meeting&uot; before stepping to the plate. Caleb Johnson got on base with a walk to lead off, and Audie Crosby singled to start the rally before Aaron White doubled in Johnson for the first run.

Crosby got thrown out at the plate on a Cole Mann single, but Kent Calvitt’s bunt single brought home White to tie the score at five. Colin Dollar then doubled home Mann and Calvitt for the 7-5 lead.

It was enough room for Dollar to work on the mound as he stayed with the nasty curveball to shut the door. Dollar worked three innings of relief to get the win and got out of a jam in the seventh with three straight strikeouts after the first two batters reached base and were left stranded on second and third.

&uot;The other pitchers are doing just as well, but when Colin is on the mound the kids have a lot of confidence,&uot; Lazarus said. &uot;They have a lot of confidence in him. He did what Colin does.&uot;

Natchez 4, Wayne County 3

Lazarus will say it again. If his Natchez 13-year-old Dixie Boys All-Stars can finally prove him right, it may be something special.

Natchez had only three hits but got stellar pitching from three hurlers to take a win over Wayne County Sunday. Now through two games the Natchez team hasn’t put together much noise at the plate but did it with pitching and defense instead.

&uot;Tomorrow, I think we’re going to just turn it on,&uot; Lazarus said. &uot;I keep saying that every day. They’re too good of hitters (not to). These kids played good enough to win. It’s so hot, I guess that’s what they do. We’re still not hitting like we should.&uot;

Even when the team trailed and needed a rally, the All-Stars got it courtesy of a couple free passes and a fielder’s choice to take the lead. Wayne County led 3-2 heading into the bottom half of the sixth before its pitchers lost control.

Aaron White reached on an error, Cole Mann singled and Colin Dollar walked to load the bases. Luke Wilson was hit by a pitch to bring home White, and Rudy Lazarus reached on a fielder’s choice to score Mann for the 4-3 lead.

Dollar, meanwhile, came in during the seventh inning to close the door to get the save and give his team the win.

Wayne County scored two runs in the second and another in the third off Mann, who lasted three before White threw three hitless innings of relief.

&uot;We had one error, and that was our key to winning,&uot; Lazarus said. &uot;They got (Mann) rattled at first, but the first and third innings he did great. Aaron shut them down, and when Colin took the mound &045; it was over. People up here are talking about Colin’s curveball. He’s got it on a string.&uot;

Natchez took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kent King walked and later scored on an Audie Crosby single. After Wayne County led 3-1 through the top of the fifth, Natchez picked up a run in the bottom half when R.J. Fleming and Caleb Johnson delivered consecutive doubles with Fleming coming around to score.