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Natchez leaves the bases loaded

NATCHEZ — The MHSAA Class 5A Natchez High School Bulldogs had more than their share of opportunities to defeat the Class 4A Yazoo City High School Panthers last Thursday night at Chester Willis Field.

Natchez High scored one run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make it a 7-6 game and had the bases loaded in that frame. But a pop-up to shortstop ended the game and the Bulldogs ended up losing by that same score.

Head coach Dan Smith said that the inability to bring in runners who were in scoring position as well as untimely miscues in the field were the difference in the outcome of this game.

“You know I’m a pet peeve about the defense. We had a few crucial errors,” Smith said. “We left a lot of men on base. We left the bases loaded a few times. I know twice. When you’ve got the bases loaded, you’ve got to squeeze a run.”

As for how good of a team Yazoo City was, Smith said, “They were okay. We should’ve won. (Thursday) night they played pretty good. They have a guy who throws a curveball. They kept our hits off balance.”

That guy was eighth-grader and winning pitcher Tierral Rials Jr., who was able to pitch himself out of some jams despite giving up six runs, four of them earned. 11 hits, walking five batter and hitting one batter. His curveball helped him strike out nine batters as he went the distance

The game was tied at 2-2 after one inning of play before the Panthers struck for two runs in the top of the second inning to go up 4-2. The Bulldogs scored one run in the bottom of the second to trail 4-3 before Yazoo City got that run back in the top of the fifth for a 5-3 lead.

Natchez High rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 5-5, but Yazoo City used a two-run rally of its own in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good at 7-5 before hanging on in the bottom of the seventh.

Rials also had himself quite the game at the plate, leading the Panthers’ offense by going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, two runs batted in, two runs scored, and one stolen base. Myron Straughter went 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored. Marcus Straughter was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored. Tyler Mitchell contributed with a double.

Natchez High (9-4) was scheduled to host cross-town rival Cathedral High School Friday night if the weather permitted before hosting Crystal Springs High School at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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