Play at plate helps Vidalia top PHS, win title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Quick thinking kicked in for Vidalia shortstop Jordan Brewer when he fielded the ball deep at short with the game on the line.

Instincts told him to throw to first. But thanks to an off-season of working on his arm strength by lifting weights and just throwing a baseball, the arm strength was there for the throw home.

He knew he&8217;s been throwing better from short, but maybe no one knows this early in the season what kind of cannon he&8217;s got.

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Brewer made what turned out to be the game-saving play in the top half of the fifth when he fielded a grounder deep at short and pegged Pineville baserunner Derek Sandoval trying to score from third. That was the second out of the inning, and the Vikings claimed a 6-4 win over the Rebels in five innings at the Vidalia tournament.

The Vikings topped West Feliciana, 3-2, to claim the tournament crown thanks to a run in their last at-bat.

&8220;Normally when coach tells us to get back in the hole, we&8217;re going one,&8221; Brewer said of the usual custom of throwing to first. &8220;I had started back in the hole, he was going home and I had to throw it. I was planning on going one the whole time, but I saw their guy going and I had to do something.&8221;

Sandoval never retreated on the ball, and the throw couldn&8217;t have been more on the money. He slid into home, but the throw was there a second before he got down. All Cameron Ainsworth had to do was apply the tag for the second out of the inning.

Had Brewer instead gone to first with the throw, Sandoval would have scored and cut the lead to one. And that&8217;s assuming Pineville baserunner Lance Laborne wouldn&8217;t have beat out the throw.

&8220;It was the only play he had, really,&8221; Vidalia head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir said. &8220;That was big. It was just a hard shot deep in the hole, and he has the arm to make that play. He&8217;s about the only person we have to make that play. It was a game-saver.&8221;

It was a huge momentum boost for a Vidalia team that was trying to close out the same Pineville team that beat the Vikings 15-2 at the PHS tournament earlier. The Vikings followed that up with Will Thomas scooping up a slow roller and throwing to Ainsworth at the plate to get Justin Rachal for the third out of the inning.

The Vikings, who scored all six of their runs in the first inning, breathed a huge sigh of relief.

&8220;I think my guy coming from third thought he had it made,&8221; Pineville head coach Darrell Wiley said. &8220;Just a great play by the shortstop. But we gave them extra at-bats (on defense) and took the bats out of our hands. It doesn&8217;t really balance out. I&8217;m not taking anything away from them &8212; they beat us &8212; but we walked four, hit four and three of them scored.&8221;

The game was called one batter into Vidalia&8217;s half of the fifth due to time limit, and it couldn&8217;t have come at a better time. The Vikings struggled at the plate against Pineville lefthander Alan Sticker after he got the final two outs of the second inning and went the rest of the way.

The six runs in the first came on just two hits. An error with the bases loaded allowed two runs to score.

&8220;They beat us 15-2, and it means a whole lot to beat them like this,&8221; Brewer said. &8220;It&8217;s awesome.&8221;