Vidalia Americans get walk-off win on bases on balls

Published 12:45 am Sunday, July 15, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vidalia Americans’ Harley Martin makes a catch as Jackson Parish’s Kylee Hay runs to first base during Saturday night’s Louisiana Dixie Youth state softball tournament game. Vidalia defeated Jackson, 5-4.

VIDALIA — It would have been easy for the 11- and 12-year-old Vidalia American softball All-Star team to get nervous and anxious at the plate after losing a one-run lead to Jackson Parish in the top of the final inning.

But the Vidalia Americans came up to the plate poised in the bottom of the sixth and managed to draw five walks in five straight at-bats to erase a 4-2 deficit and move on to the winner’s bracket in the state tournament.

“I was real impressed, because at this age we are still trying to work on the basics and controlling the drive to pull the trigger,” head coach Jay Gamberi said. “I am happy they are learning to control that better, and we showed that in this game. I hope we can build on that going forward.”

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Gamberi said he was also proud of the way his team fought back to win in a very tense game.

Jackson Parish struck first with a run in the first inning.

Vidalia took the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the third when Baylee Graning reached on an error and later scored on a passed ball. Harley Martin walked two batters later and came around to score on an RBI single by Lexie Emanuel.

Vidalia pitchers Bailey Yates and Caitlyn Gamberi combined to shut Jackson Parish down until the top of the sixth when Jackson Parish got hot.

Yates re-entered the game in the top of the sixth after pitching the first three innings. Gamberi had thrown two three-up, three-down innings in the fourth and fifth but was forced to come out of the game due to inning limitations.

Yates allowed just one unearned run on two hits in her first appearance, but this time around Jackson Parish was ready for her and pounded out four hits that scored three runs to give Jackson Parish a 4-2 lead.

Vidalia came back out in the bottom of the inning and drew five walks the last of which brought in Mia Gamberi from third and got past the Jackson Parish catcher. Marlee Magee took advantage of the passed ball and a distracted Jackson Parish defense to race all the way around from second base and score the winning run before Jackson Parish could throw her out.

Yates got the win in the circle for Vidalia. The Vidalia Americans managed just three hits but drew nine walks to score the five runs.

Jay Gamberi said assistant coaches Erin Delaney and Kelly Harvey were key in keeping his batters patient at the plate, and Delaney played a key role in sending Magee home on the final run from the third-base coaches box.

“It was fantastic,” Jay Gamberi said about the win. “It was tense in the dugout.”

Vidalia will have the day off today and play in the winner’s bracket at 8 p.m. Monday.