Union, Lake drop series openers

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
April 28, 2001
LAKE One bad inning can cost a team dearly in the state playoffs.
Nobody knows that better than the Lake Hornets as their seventh inning defensive collapse enabled Mercy Cross to turn an 8-4 Hornet lead into a 12-8 Crusader victory in the first game of their second round Class 1A best-of-three series Friday night.
Defense is what cost the defending Class 1A state champion Hornets.
Lake finished with nine hits, while Mercy Cross had seven. The Hornets committed five errors, three of which came in the fateful seventh frame as Mercy Cross got eight runs on just four hits in the comeback.
Trailing 8-4, Donnie McFall and Nick Moody got back-to-back doubles to open the top of the seventh. Buddy Pellegrino was hit by a pitch and Howard reached on an error.
James Ward drew a walk and Goodman turned to Jake Nester in relief of Hornet starter Craig Martin (8-1). Sacrifice flies by Richard O'Barr and Mark Taggart, along with RBI-singles by Elliott and McFall highlighted the Crusader comeback. Throw in a walk and two Hornet errors for good measure and the damage was done.
A baserunning blunder cost Lake at least one run in the bottom of the sixth. Up 8-4, the Hornets had runners at first and third base with two outs. Eric Watkins hit a blooper that fell in behind second base, but the Hornet runner at first base didn't run on contact and was easily forced at second base by Mercy Cross right fielder Chris Elliott. The runner on third was at the plate and the batter had reached first base, but Elliott's throw ended the inning and took away a big insurance run.
Mercy Cross jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three runs in the top of the third inning.
Lake scored twice in the bottom of the third, once in the fourth, and four times in the fifth to go up 7-3. The key hit in the four-run fifth was a two-run single by Watkins. Martin had a double in the inning with Brandon Burrus adding an RBI-single.
Martin went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Lake, 23-7. Jason McGee went 2-for-5, while Jason Massey and Eric Gunn both had a double.
McFall went 2-for-4 for Mercy Cross, 21-5. O'Barr had a double and two RBIs.
Howard (11-1), a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College signee, got the complete game win despite allowing seven earned runs after entering the game with a 1.58 ERA. His one loss was to Class 4A Vancleave by a run.
Game 2 is set for today at 1 p.m. at Thompson Field in Biloxi. Lake is expected to go with Watkins (5-2), while Mercy Cross will turn to O'Barr (4-2, 2.01 ERA).
St. Aloysius 7, Union 2: A five-run second inning carried St. Aloysius past Union in Game 1 of their Class 1A best-of-three playoff series Friday at Union.
Union committed three errors in the second inning.
Down 6-0, Union got both of its runs in the bottom of the second inning.
The Flashes picked up an insurance run in the sixth.
St. Aloysius, 21-2, had eight hits with Charlie Amborn having a single and a double, Clay Simmons collecting a pair of singles, and Aaron George and Chris Bass both having a double.
Union, 21-12, got a single apiece from Eric Graham, Wes Henry, Jeremy Hamm, and Brooks Vance as the Yellow Jackets managed only four hits.
Justin Darby (8-2) took the loss with Ryan Hearn getting the win.
Game 2 is set for 2 p.m. today at Vicksburg.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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