Natchez 7s lose heartbreaker

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 25, 2010

WESSON — In an elimination game that saw one rally after another, the Lincoln County Nationals had the one that counted the most — the one that saw one season continue and another come to an end.

After the Natchez 7-year-old coach pitch All-Stars scored seven runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 17-14 lead, the Lincoln County Nationals responded by scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth, the final two with two outs, to take a dramatic 18-17 win.

“It was a heartbreaking loss. It was like a 10-round boxing match and they won the decision,” Natchez coach Justin Anderson said. “We got an out. They scored a couple of runs. We got an out. They scored a couple of runs. We were one out away. They played their hearts out.”

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Natchez fell behind 4-2 after one inning of play. However, they responded by scoring one run in the top of the second and three more runs in the top of the third to take a 6-4 lead. But that lead wouldn’t last very long as the Lincoln Nationals plated two runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 6-6 and retook the lead with a five-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.

Then the game started to get real interesting. In the top of the fifth inning, Natchez had already scored four runs and appeared ready to have a big inning as it had the bases loaded with no outs. Yet a couple of batting miscues eventually led no additional runs and Natchez was trailing 11-10.

“Just little small things, small errors cost us. Had a couple of miscues batting,” Anderson said. “We played great. We just came up short.”

The Lincoln Nationals scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 14-10 lead before having to rally an inning later to win the game.

Sam Mosby went 4-for-4 with a double and a home run while Parker Robinson was 4-for-4 with two doubles. Tripp Cotten went 3-for-4 with a home run. Matt Petty had a double and a home run. Jasin Wesberry was 3-for-4 with a triple.

“I’d like to thank the coaches, Jason Wesberry Sr., Michael Petty and Adam Brady,” coach Robinson said.

Natchez 8s 18, Hazlehurst 11

BROOKHAVEN — After being held to just five extra-base hits in a 19-10 loss to the Lincoln County Americans on Wednesday night, the Natchez 8-year-old All-Stars’ bats welcomed back its power surge.

Six batters combined for 11 extra-base hits, five of them home runs that left the park and Natchez opened up a close game by scoring seven runs in the top of the sixth inning to defeat Hazlehurst 18-11 in an elimination game Thursday night.

“The bats came alive. Half the players had extra-base hits. It’s a team effort,” Natchez coach Dan Ratcliff said. “They had fun tonight. Last night we were dragging a little bit. Tonight, before and after each inning, they ran as hard as they can.”

Another key to Natchez’s win was getting off to a good start, something it had not done the two previous games. And by scoring five runs in the top of the first inning, it not only took pressure off Natchez, but it also put the pressure on Hazlehurst to stay in the game.

“We started on the right foot. When you put five on someone in one inning, it means a lot. We told them, ‘Don’t let your guard down,’” Ratcliff said.

Hazlehurst did indeed get back in the game by scoring two runs in the bottom of the first and again in the bottom of the second. But Natchez responded by putting up four runs in the top of the third for a 9-4 lead. Trailing 11-4 going three and a half innings, Hazlehurst took advantage of some Natchez errors in the bottom of the fourth to make it an 11-7 game and added another run in the bottom of the fifth.

“When we got to the fourth inning, we threw the ball around. They shut us down in the fifth. I told them to shake off those errors. Never give up. Have fun. Stay positive,” Ratcliff said.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, Jonathan Ratcliff started the rally with a single. Then Jack Whitehead hit a two-run home run to centerfield and Bradrick Dean came up to the plate and hit a solo home run to give Natchez a 14-8 lead.

After that Natchez started playing small ball. Jacob Reese, Bankston Jordan, Will Ray, Jakel Barnes and Dylan Troxler all hit singles. James Singleton finished things off with a bases-clearing double.

“We batted 11 of our 12 batters,” coach Ratcliff said. “Their last at-bat, mathematically they couldn’t come back. Those three runs were cosmetic runs. They let them bat in the bottom of the sixth. We knew we won, but I told them to play hard and get them out.”

Troxler went 4-for-4 with two doubles. Barnes, Ray and Singleton each went 3-for-4, with Singleton having a double and a triple to go with his home run. Dean was 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs. Ratcliff went 2-for-3 with a triple, Rees and Jordan each went 2-for-3 and Ben White hit a home run.

“The parents and the commissioners of our league, their support has been amazing. Our coaches, Bryce Murray, Chris Whitehead and Mike Ray, the head coach, have made a difference —talking to each other, doing the stats,” Ratcliff said.

Natchez will take on the loser of the Franklin County/Lincoln County Americans game in an elimination game today at 6 p.m.