Natchez still winless in Region 5-5A after loss at West Jones; Bulldogs holds off Bobcats

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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LAUREL — The Natchez High School Bulldogs continue to learn first-hand just how good the pitching in MHSAA Region 5-5A is this season as they are still winless in region play after a 15-0 loss to the West Jones High School Eagles last Tuesday night in just three innings.

Camden Clark pitched all three innings for West Jones (13-4, 5-0) as he held Natchez High to just two base hits — singles by Jwun Mackey and Mason Bouldin — while striking out six batters and walking only two batters.

“They’re who they are. They’re one of the top teams in the state,” Bulldogs head coach Dan Smith said. “Their pitchers (in this case Clark) throw 87, 88. That’s what we’re going to see. You can’t expect the kids to hit that fast. They have two USM commits already.”

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West Jones scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and that was more than enough run support for Clark, who continued to pound the strike zone with fastball after fastball, daring Natchez High’s line-up to make contact.

“I was proud of my kids. They didn’t back down,” Smith said. “It’s kind of hard for the kids to get adjusted to that kind of pitching. We have the toughest region in the state. Everyone from Florence to Brookhaven to West Jones, they have pitchers who throw in the mid- to high-80s. I told my coaches we’re going to get a pitching machine later this year.”

Both Bouldin and Mackey went 1-for-1 for the Bulldogs. Skylar Brown was the losing pitcher after allowing four runs, all of them earned, on one hit with three walks, no strikeouts, and one hit batter in just one-third of an inning.

Jaylin Davis came on in relief and gave up 11 runs, five of them earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts, one walk, and three hit batters. The Eagles scored all 11 of those runs off Davis in the bottom of the second inning.

West Jones finished with nine base hits and was led by Lawson Odom, who went 2-for-2 with a double and one run scored, as well as Bergin Bullock, who was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

Natchez High (9-11, 0-5) was scheduled to host to West Jones for a varsity doubleheader at Chester Willis Field on Thursday at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., if the weather permitted.

Natchez High 12, Bogue Chitto 6 (Mon. night)

NATCHEZ — Traylon Minor and winning pitcher Jwun Mackey combined for four base hits and five runs batted in as the Natchez High School Bulldogs needed a six-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat the Bogue Chitto Attendance Center Bobcats 12-6 last Monday night at Chester Willis Field.

Minor went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs batted in, and two runs scored while Mackey was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs, and one run scored to overcome a sometimes shaky performance on the mound.

“We played pretty good. We started off a little slow,” Natchez High head coach Dan Smith said. “As the game went on, we got in a little groove. We hit the ball pretty good early on. We had three errors, so we cut down on the errors. Our pitching did good.”

Mackey gave up three runs in the top of the first inning, but settled down over the next four inning, giving up just one run in the top of the fourth. The Bulldogs gave him plenty of run support by scoring three runs each in the bottom of the first and second innings for a 6-3 lead.

Natchez High’s bats struggled over the next three innings and that allowed Bogue Chitto to get back in the game as the game progressed. The Bobcats trailed 6-4 going into the sixth inning. And that’s when Mackey reached his pitch count max, Smith said, and forced a pitching change. The Bobcats scored two runs off of Mackey in that frame to make it a 6-6 game.

“Jwun started the game. His pitch count was up, so I pulled him and brought in the seventh-grader (Kvian Smith). I told my pitching before we put him in I was nervous about putting him in that moment.”

Mackey allowed six runs, four of them earned, on six hits with three strikeouts, five walks, and two hit batters over five and two-thirds innings.

That moment was when Bogue Chitto had runners on second and third base with two outs. But Smith put the clamps on the Bobcats and the Bulldogs got out of the top of the sixth without any further damage.

Natchez High (9-10) then proceeded to score six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it a 12-6 game and essentially put the game away. Smith pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to end the Bobcats’ upset bid.

“Those six runs proved to be a big cushion for (Smith). That gave him a little more leeway,” Smith said. “I was pleased with how he played. He came in and threw strikes.”

Smith allowed no runs, no hits and struck out two batters in one and one-third innings to pick up the save. Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.