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Natchez 9s open district tourney with big win

NATCHEZ — It took the Natchez Dixie Youth 9-year-old All-Stars until the top of the fifth inning before it tallied a hit Tuesday night against Copiah.

But since Natchez was already leading 8-3, there wasn’t a whole lot of worrying by the Natchez players and coaches about when the team would start hitting.

When Natchez’s first hit, a two-run single by Alex McCready, was made, the 9-year-old All-Stars were in the middle of what would be an 11-run inning. Even though Copiah scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, the game was called after the third out due to the 10-run mercy, with Natchez winning 15-5.

“Their first pitcher (Payton Simon) was throwing excellent. He was throwing hard,” Natchez coach David Lindsey said.

“They brought in a couple of more guys who were wild, and we’ll take a walk as soon as we will a hit. But that last boy (Sawyer Carpenter) was throwing strikes, and we started hitting him.”

The top of the fifth began with Natchez leading just 4-3. Sterling Yarborough got things started with a walk, then stole second base and third base, and scored on a passed ball. Conner Murray and P.J. Hargrave also drew walks, prompting Copiah to pull reliever Joseph Bauer and bring Will Smith to the mound.

Smith hit the next Natchez batter, Hunter Carroll, loading the bases. Murray then scored on a passed ball, and Smith again loaded the bases by walking Tyler Lindsey.

Smith walked Sawyer Allen to bring in Hargrave, then walked starter Andrew Merriett to score Carroll. Smith was pulled for Carpenter, who gave up the two-run single to McCready.

Carpenter recovered by striking out the next Natchez batter, Marcus Hooker, but gave up another run when Cedric Dunbar hit into a fielder’s choice that Merriett. Natchez’s Ben Foster then hit a triple that scored McCready. Mathew Carey walked, and Yarborough capped off the inning with a two-run single that scored Foster and Carey. Murray then struck out to end the top of the fifth.

Natchez fell behind 2-0 in the bottom of the first, but tied it up in the top of the third when Foster and Yarborough both scored on passed balls. It added two more runs in the top of the fourth when Allen and Hooker scored on passed balls.

Merriett pitched all five innings for Natchez, giving up just four runs, an outing that impressed his coach.

“That was one of the best performances I’ve seen all year from a pitcher,” David Lindsey said.

“He was on my regular season team, but didn’t get to pitch much. He came out and struggled a little early, but after that, he came out and was throwing strikes.”

Natchez will face Lincoln County Nationals tonight at 6. Copiah will face the Lincoln County Americans at 8 p.m.