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Maxwell leads Wildcats to win

By Staff
FULL STRIDE Meridian's Tyler Maxwell finished Monday night's tense game on the mound while also contributing at the plate. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
May 7, 2002
Relief in the 5A playoffs for the Meridian Wildcats has come from the arm of Tyler Maxwell. On Monday night, he sent a big, partisan Meridian crowd home happy by virtue of his bat.
Maxwell's first-pitch hit found a hole up the middle bringing Ricky McMillian home from third with the game-winning run in the Wildcats' 6-5 victory against Oak Grove at John Moss Field. The win evens up the South State 5A series at 1-1.
Game three of the series will be tonight at 7 p.m. at Oak Grove in Hattiesburg. Meridian improves to 34-7 on the season while Oak Grove (26-5) suffered its first loss in the playoffs after five straight wins.
Maxwell, who missed a chance to close out Oak Grove in the seventh, was relieved he came through to keep his team alive for another day.
He got it against Oak Grove's closer and best player in USM signee Marc Maddox. The relief loss spoiled an overall impressive game by Maddox who ripped a one-out double in the seventh off Maxwell to tie the game at 5-5. Maddox finished with four RBIs, including a two-run homer on Saturday before the rains came.
Oak Grove had 14 hits in the game and hit No. 12 nearly put the Warriors in the lead. It came right after Maddox's double. Todd Siders sent a shot into right but McMillian scooped it up and fired a strike to catcher Torry Bates at the plate. Bates tagged out Maddox for a key second out.
Two batters later, Maxwell fanned Kyle Sellers to end Oak Grove's four-hit seventh inning.
The Warriors again had a runner in scoring position in the top of the eighth but Maxwell fanned Baily Hartel on tough 2-2 pitch. Hartel had earlier had three sharp singles in the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, McMillian took a 1-2 pitch from Maddox and got a key leadoff single to right.
Pinch-hitter Lance Burnham then laid down a solid bunt sending McMillian to second. Andy Slayton, who had another good outing, moved him over to third on a fly-ball to right.
Then on the first pitch to Maxwell, the game ended with the hit to center.
Meridian head coach Vince McLemore was elated with the win.
Down 2-0 when the game resumed from Saturday's rain-out in the second, Meridian scratched out a run in the third on Richmond Alexander's grounder to short that scored Slayton.
Trailing 3-1 following a Maddox RBI hit in the fifth, Meridian scored three times off four walks and two hits off a tiring Oak Grove starter in Wayne Smith in their half of the fifth. Maxwell had a RBI hit, also up the middle, and Maurice Cole sent a run home on a ground-out.
A bases-loaded walk to Iverson sent Maxwell in with the go-ahead run at 4-3.
A double by Oak Grove's Martin Roark tied it at 4-4 in the sixth. Meridian re-grabbed the lead at 5-4 when Alexander delivered a two-out hit to right scoring Pierre Henderson in the bottom of the sixth.
Maxwell went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to lead Meridian. Alexander also had two hits and two RBI. Henderson and Slayton scored twice.
Bates went 5 1/3 innings before yielding to Maxwell who went 2 2/3 innings. The win moves him to 8-2 on the year.
Maddox went 3-for-4 with four RBIs including a double and a home run for Oak Grove. Roark, Siders, Keith Winstead, and Drew Robinson all had two hits.