Playoff Bound: Natchez wins doubleheader, claims third place in district
NATCHEZ — Entering Friday’s doubleheader with Wingfield, the Natchez High Bulldogs knew what was at stake.
They needed two wins to clinch a playoff spot, and for a team that won just two games last season, a playoff berth would mean everything.
In the first game, the Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders, and behind Shavoke Herrington’s complete game, the Bulldogs shutout Wingfield 10-0.
Chris Scott followed Herrington’s stellar performance with one of his own, going five innings, and Travez Lyles came in and shut the door on the Falcons, clinching Natchez a spot in the playoffs with a 13-5 win.
“It feels pretty good,” said Natchez head coach Dan Smith of knowing his team will be playing in the postseason. “The kids are excited and that is the main thing. They worked really hard, and they deserved to get it.”
Smith said everyone was aware of what needed to happen to keep the season alive, and he believes it served as a motivational tool.
“I think it helped because we had good practices all this week,” he said. “The kids were pumped up all week and all of them were out here at 11 a.m. trying to get the field ready.”
The Bulldogs played near flawless baseball in the first game, as they committed just one error and pounded out 11 hits.
But it was Herrington who stole the show, allowing just four hits and striking out nine.
“Shavoke threw strikes and that is my main thing with pitchers,” Smith said. “If you throw strikes, the defense is going to play. He threw strikes and the result is what we wanted.”
Natchez jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the second inning, but what propelled the Bulldogs was a five-run third inning, pushing their lead to 7-0.
“They were disciplined at the plate tonight, and when they got on, they ran the bases really smart,” Smith said. “Today was an all-around effort. It was a complete game, and I’m proud of them.”
Natchez tacked on another run in the fourth and two in the fifth to secure the 10-0 win.
Then, with the next game deciding their fate, the Bulldogs stepped up to the plate.
They picked up right where they left off in game one, quickly building a 4-0 lead after just two innings.
Wingfield pushed across a run in the third, but the Bulldogs answered with a big inning of their own, scoring five in the fourth.
Just when it appeared the Bulldogs were heading towards another 10-run-rule game, the Falcons battled back.
Wingfield pushed across three runs in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 9-4, but it was too little too late.
Natchez went on a tear in the bottom of the frame scoring four runs to capture the 13-5 win.
The Bulldogs were once again in double-digit hits for the game with 10.
Now, they await their first round opponent, who Smith hopes to know by Wednesday. But in the mean time, they are going to celebrate, especially their lone senior Jarell Martin, who was honored in between games for senior night.
“This feels really good,” he said. “Especially coming from last year just winning two games. Making the playoffs is a good thing at the end of the day.”
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