Natchez rolls past Crystal Springs after blowing late-game lead to Raymond

Published 2:25 pm Monday, March 20, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Natchez High School head baseball coach Dan Smith stresses to his team that defense and pitching wins games. And it was a good thing the Bulldogs had Traylon Minor on the mound for them in Game 2 of a varsity doubleheader last Saturday afternoon at Chester Willis Field.

On a cold, blustery day, Minor struck out 13 batters to offset five Natchez High errors while Kameron Carter went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored to lead the Bulldogs to an 11-3 win over the Crystal Springs High School Tigers to split the twin-bill.

“It’s the same thing. But we lucked up in that the errors didn’t hurt us. Traylon pitched a good game,” Smith said. “Just so happens, the second game the errors didn’t hurt us. Traylon struck out 13 batters. He had his fastball working. It was cold, so I didn’t want him throwing too many fastballs.”

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With that in mind, Smith said that Minor threw a few off-speed pitches as well as some fastballs the second time Crystal Springs’ line-up went to bat around. And he continued to throw strikes, but he also walked five batters and hit three batters.

After a scoreless first inning, Natchez High gave Minor all the run support he needed over the next two innings. The Bulldogs scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and added five more runs in the bottom of the third for a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers tried to mount a comeback against Minor and company as they scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to make it a 7-3 game. However, the Bulldogs answered with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, including an inside-the-park home run by Kameron Carter.

Carter’s three-hit performance led Natchez High’s nine hit barrage. Martavis Woods went 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored while both Minor and Jaylin Neal each had a double.

Natchez High (6-6) played host to Florence High School in the two team’s MHSAA Region 5-5A opener on Tuesday with the junior varsity game at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7 p.m.

Raymond 9, Natchez High 8 (Sat. afternoon)

NATCHEZ — In the first game of the varsity doubleheader hosted by Natchez High School last Saturday at Chester Willis Field, the Raymond High School Rangers scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning as they held on for a wild 9-8 win over the Bulldogs in a game that had a 1 p.m. start.

Errors, walks and hit batters are what cost Natchez High the win in this game. The Bulldogs committed eight errors while starting pitcher Skylar Brown and relief pitcher Jaylin Davis combined to walk seven batters. Brown didn’t help himself too much as he hit four Raymond batters in his two innings on the mound.

“That basically summed up the game. If we had half of those errors, we win the game,” Smith said. “I told the team after the game, in any sport, defense wins games. It would have been a different ball game.”

Smith added that even with the walks by Brown and Davis, those put a lot of pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense.

“If we cut down on those walks, we win the game. Pitching and defense will always keep you in the game. It was really cold and windy Saturday,” Smith noted. “We hit he ball pretty well. We had seven hits and they only had two.”

Natchez High scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Raymond answered with a three-run rally in the top of the second inning and then the Rangers scored two more runs in the top of the third to go up 5-2.

However, the Bulldogs responded with a three-run rally of their own in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 5-all. They would take a 7-6 lead into the seventh inning before the Rangers rallied in the top of that frame. Natchez High had one last opportunity to pull out the win, but the Bulldogs were held to one run in the bottom of the seventh.

Traylon Minor reached base all four times he was at the plate. He went 3-for-3 with one RBI and three runs scored and was walked once. Davis went 2-for-3 with one run scored while Kameron Carter had a double.