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13s pitching sends locals to regionals

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
July 14, 2003
With dark storm clouds gathering, Meridian 13-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star manager Michael Newell wanted to see things wrapped up quickly.
If only his pitcher Justin Pritchett would cooperate. Pritchett began struggling with his control for the only time in Sunday afternoon's State Championship contest with Long Beach at the new Q.V. Sykes Park.
After issuing his second walk of the inning, Newell visited the mound, just as lightning flashed in the distance.
Pritchett bore down and struck out Long Beach's Chris Castiglia on a 1-2 pitch. He then got Jeremy Hill in a 1-2 hole before inducing a game-ending ground out to second baseman D.J. Roberts.
Pritchett's complete game was Meridian's fourth of the tournament. The host team won all four games, but Sunday's 6-2 win over Long Beach in the finals, was by far the closest. In three preceding games, Meridian had outscored its opposition 34-2.
Long Beach sent up a left-hander in Hill to the mound to start and he worked fairly effectively in his four innings. Hill's off-speed pitches kept Meridian off-balanced.
Still, Newell's team was able to scratch out a lead by drawing walks, stealing bases and putting the ball in play to score runs.
They got two in the first using that formula. Roberts led off with a walk, stole second and third and then scored on an infield hit by Chase Naylor.
With two still on, Kameron Heister sent a ball to the right side which was enough to score Tyler Covington from third for a 2-0 lead.
Meridian added a run in the second when Rock McGowin walked, stole second and scored on Brandon Key's grounder to second. Meridian had six stolen bases in the first three innings.
Pritchett, meanwhile, had an easy time until the fourth. He allowed a third inning double to Andrew Sorenson in the second to account for Long Beach's only hit until the fourth.
There, a single and a walk gave the visiting coast team an opportunity. Caleb Boyd then sent a single into left scoring Castiglia to make it a 3-1 game.
Pritchett came back, getting two ground ball force outs to put out the threat.
Meridian got some breathing room with three runs in their half of the fourth. Roberts reached on an error while Key walked. With one out, Naylor got his second hit of the game with a single to right to score Roberts.
Pinch-hitter David Zabinski ripped a hit up the middle to plate Key for a 5-1 lead. An error on a ball hit by Heister brought in Naylor for a 6-1 advantage.
Long Beach threatened again loading the bases in the sixth with one out. Again Pritchett bounced back, getting key strikeouts to end the inning with the visitors getting just one run that coming off a wild pitch.
The only two walks Pritchett allowed came in the seventh. He struck out seven while scattering four hits.
Meridian was held to five hits by Hill and two relievers. Naylor and Zabinski each had two hits.
Long Beach 10
St. Martin 6
Long Beach reached the finals by beating St. Martin 10-6 in an early afternoon game.
Chris Castiglia went six innings to grab the win. He helped his own cause by belting a three-run homer to highlight a six-run fifth.
Sal Townsend had a two-run hit to key a four-run fourth for Long Beach which erased a 3-0 lead by St. Martin.

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