Wildcats clutch in playoff opener

By Staff
REACHING FOR IT n Long Beach's Justin Messer is forced out at first base by Meridian's John Stevens. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
April 20, 2001
Clutch hits put the Meridian Wildcats in command of their Class 5A first round playoff game against the Long Beach Bearcats.
Clutch pitching ended it.
The Wildcats took a 6-2 win in Thursday night's opener at John Moss Field. The best-of-three opening round series shifts to the coast today for the second game which will start at 6 p.m. The Cats will bring John Hays Compton to the mound.
MHS head coach Vince McLemore said he thought the manner in which the Cats (22-11) took the win, was a confidence builder for what could be the potential series-end tonight.
If the pitching unit performs the way it did Thursday, MHS may very well get the break it's looking for.
Starter John Iverson struck out five and scattered four hits after the first two innings to improve to 8-2.
It was in the bottom of the second that the MHS bats got going and snapped a scoreless tie.
Kris Barnett laced an RBI double that brought in pinch runner Greg Harris. Two batters later, following a walk to Tyler Maxwell, Richmond Alexander stepped to the plate and blasted a two-run double to push the lead to 3-0.
In the third, the Cats struck again, as Torry Bates went yard, putting a Brian Hayden offering over the centerfield fence to elevate the margin to 5-0.
The bottom of the fifth frame saw Barnett come through with his second baseknock of the evening, a screamer down the third base line that plated Bates for the final Cat scoring.
Long Beach (18-9) threatened to rally in the sixth, as Bearcat second baseman Trae Brown singled sharply with one away, to set things in motion for the visitors.
Iverson then walked three straight and Brown scored on a passed ball.
But that's as close as the Bearcats would get the rest of the way, as Iverson put on the brakes and managed to get the two outs he needed to get out of the jam. Afterward, Long Beach head coach Mark Ross refused comment.
Iverson put the finishing touches in the top of the seventh, by fanning three Bearcat batters.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or e-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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