Despite 12-2 loss, Natchez High coach sees improvement
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 20, 2013
NATCHEZ — In a 12-2 loss in a key Region 6-6A game against Brandon High School Tuesday, Natchez High School baseball coach Brian Kossum had to focus on the positives.
And one of those positives was a bunt by Denzel Washington in the bottom of the second that, to any fan of the game, may have been as well-executed as you’ll see.
With runners on first and second, Washington laid a bunt down that rolled parallel to the third-base line only inches away from being foul. The ball traveled several feet then stopped dead in its tracks, leaving the Brandon third baseman unable to make a play.
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Sadarrius Pollard would score from third in the next at-bat on a wild pitch, cutting Brandon’s lead at the time to 2-1.
“We don’t get to do it enough because we’ll be down five to six runs,” Kossum said. “That bunt you lay down to move the runner is just as important as that RBI single that drives it in. We needed that at the moment (it happened).”
Kossum’s feelings on the bunt were reflective of his overall thoughts on how his team played. While it was a blowout loss for the hometown Bulldogs, Kossum said he’s gradually seeing improvement in the little things, such as laying down a bunt.
“It’s hard to say that in a 12-2 loss that you were happy, but I really feel like we showed improvement,” Kossum said. “The kids are staying in the game. Earlier in the year we’d blow up in the first or second inning, and now we’re playing longer and making it into the third or fourth inning. Hopefully that will progress to six or seven innings.”
An RBI single by Brandon starting pitcher Tyler Rachel in the top of the first scored Trent Turner to give Brandon an early 1-0 lead. In the top of the second, Rachel walked with the bases loaded, sending home Jackson Mitchell and giving the visiting Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
After NHS cut it to 2-1, Brandon added three more runs in the top of the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Brandon finally drove NHS starter Derrian Johnson off the mound, adding three more runs — two on a Colby Whitfield two-run home run — for Brandon to make it 8-1.
The visiting Bulldogs scored two runs in the fifth and two runs in the sixth to give them a 12-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. NHS added one more run in the bottom of the sixth when Carlos Woods came home on a fielding error. Brandon then closed things out, and the game ended after six because of the 10-runs-after-five mercy rule.
Rachel got the win for Brandon, giving up just one run in five innings of work. Rachel worked quickly on the mound, and Kossum said he relied on strong velocity that was “probably 80 mph.” While a few of his upper classmen tried to step out of the box and slow the game down, Kossum said it wasn’t a team-wide strategy.
“I’m not going to focus on trying to throw him out of his (rhythm),” Kossum said. “As long as my batters are not uncomfortable, then we’re OK.”
Johnson took the loss, going 3 1/3 innings and giving up eight runs on nine hits and eight walks. He also had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double.
NHS (1-6) will play at Brandon Friday.