Natchez wins first division game since 2001

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; After all Charlie Williams has been through the previous four seasons, the Natchez High head coach wanted the ball after the game was over.

But instead he gave it to pitcher Travis Isaac, who threw a one-hitter while the defense played well behind him as the Bulldogs landed a 10-0, six-inning win over Wingfield. The win ended a dry spell in division play that dated back to the 2001 season &8212; Michael Lindsey&8217;s last year as head coach and a year most of the current players were barely in middle school.

Williams has been there since the 2002 season. But he gave up the game ball after it was over.

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&8220;They knew about (the losing streak) because I told them,&8221; Williams said. &8220;I wanted that ball. But Travis pitched a good game, and I gave it to him. We&8217;re growing, but we&8217;ve still got a long way to go. I&8217;m extremely proud of them. We&8217;re trying to build this thing back up where it needs to be.&8221;

Some of the credit can be given to the MHSAA, who broke tradition and finally took Vicksburg and Warren Central out of the Bulldogs&8217; division in baseball and added Wingfield and Jim Hill to go with Forest Hill.

The Falcons have had their share of struggles as well &8212; a win over Bailey this season ended a 21-game losing streak dating back to the 2004 season &8212; but don&8217;t tell that to the Bulldogs. It was a historic win, one that gives them hope of making the 2006 season something to remember.

And it&8217;s coming against some odds. Four returning starters from last year are not with the team &8212; Robert Woods, Jeremy Ellis, Ja-Mes Logan (moved to Houston) and C.J. Wright (now at ACCS).

&8220;We kind of got a weak district this year, and we&8217;re going to try to be district champions,&8221; said shortstop Edward Johnson, who scored three runs. &8220;Forest Hill, they&8217;re along the line with us. We played them last year and they beat us by one. We&8217;re real young, but we&8217;ve got a team full of juniors. We&8217;re going to try to play well and try to win district.&8221;

Part of it Tuesday was Isaac&8217;s pitching as the right-hander who doesn&8217;t throw hard just hit his spots and never really got behind in the count. He had a no-hitter going through five until Jessie Butler doubled down the line in left with two outs in the sixth.

Just as important, the Bulldogs&8217; defense had just one error behind him. That came in the third off the bat of Jadaric Jackson, but Isaac punched him out on a double play on a liner back to the mound.

Isaac walked one and hit a batter.

&8220;All we ask him to do is throw strikes,&8221; Williams said. &8220;He doesn&8217;t throw hard. We mixed it up, and he did a good job. That&8217;s all we&8217;ve been telling him the last two years &8212; throw strikes and let your defense play behind you. That&8217;s our Achilles heel &8212; pitching. We&8217;re really thin in pitching. It was really good to get the six out of Travis tonight.&8221;

It was tough for the Falcons, who struggled both at the plate and in the field. They committed five errors and had several balls get by the catcher and to the backstop.

Natchez High had only six hits. Wingfield struck out six times and put only three balls out of the infield.

&8220;That&8217;s what we&8217;re trying to figure out,&8221; Wingfield head coach Eric Lantrip said. &8220;We did put the ball in play, but we didn&8217;t take advantage of the opportunities we had. I don&8217;t know what was more disappointing &8212; the offense or the defense.

&8220;We didn&8217;t hit the ball when the pitcher didn&8217;t look to have good stuff. This is our third game, and we&8217;ve got a bunch of new kids in our team. We&8217;ve got nine ninth-graders.&8221;

The Bulldogs took advantage of the miscues and scored in every inning. The first three came on either a passed ball or error, but in the third Marcus Hargraves put down a bunt that scored Thomas Hughes for a 4-0 lead. Hargraves and Desmond Smoot each scored on balls that got by the catcher.

Johnson singled to lead off the fifth, stole second and third and scored when Cameron Logan lined a single to left for a 7-0 lead.

Yet the Bulldogs still struck out 11 times. They had the bases loaded in the fifth with one out, but Wingfield reliever Aundre Thompson got the next two batters to strike out to end the inning.

&8220;They&8217;re starting to (come down),&8221; Logan said. &8220;We&8217;re still getting a little too many. It&8217;s been about the same, but early on we were taking too many good pitches.&8221;

The Bulldogs will play again at home against Vicksburg on Saturday.