McComb humbles Panthers 9-1

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001

The Brookhaven Panthers were in a giving mood Tuesday night andthe McComb Tigers accepted their gifts with open arms. The Pantherscommitted five costly errors and the results proved damaging as theTigers downed the Panthers 9-1 in a key Disvision 6-4A matchup.

McComb improved to 9-5 overall, 3-1 in division play. ThePanthers fell to 8-3 and 3-1.

It was a game that went sour for Brookhaven from the outset. TheTigers wasted no time in putting some runs on the board in thefirst inning, thanks to two costly Panther errors. Vince Gravesreached first on second baseman Daniel Boyd’s bobble. Pat Barnesfollowed with a double to right-center, moved to third on a wildpitch, and scored on Boyd’s second miscue of the inning.

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“We felt like if we threw strikes and made the plays defensivelywe’d be alright,” said Brookhaven head coach Randy Spring. “Thedisappointing thing is we’ve made only 14 errors the entire season.Now we make five tonight. That’s very frustrating.

“We seemed to be on the defensive all night,” Spring continued.”McComb took advantage of our mistakes and they capitalized onthem. They did what they had to do to win and I congratulate themfor that.”

The Panthers, who managed only three hits, cut the lead to 2-1in the second. James McCall had an infield single and moved tosecond on a passed ball. Designated hitter Kern Hoff reached firston a fielder’s choice bunt moving McCall to third. McCall scored onJustin Sykes’ ground out.

After that Tiger ace Damien Givens slammed the door shut holdingthe Panthers hitless for the remainder of the game.

“I think Damien is getting better,” said McComb head coach ChuckFreeman. “He’s pitched against some stiff competition. He lost toOak Grove and Hattiesburg. It seems like he continues to improveeach time he’s on the mound.”

McComb blew the game wide open in the third, with errors onceagain playing a big part.

Barnes led off with a walk and moved to second on Boyd’s error.Chaney Spiers ripped a single down the third base line to plateBarnes. Kevin Abel then dropped down a perfect bunt. Brookhavenpitcher Miguel Banks fielded it, but threw wildly to first,allowing Spiers to score. Boyd would later score on a wild pitch togive the Tigers a 6-1 lead.

“I thought we got some key hits,” said Freeman. “We were alsoable to capitalize on some of Brookhaven’s mistakes.”

McComb tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh onsingles by Spiers and Abel and a triple by Michael Lewis.

Givens then proceeded to retire 15 of the last 17 Brookhavenbatters he faced.

“I just wanted to keep the ball around the plate,” said Givens.”I wanted to throw strikes and give the defense a chance to makeplays behind me and we did that tonight. Brookhaven is a good teamand they can hit the ball. I was just lucky that I was able tocontrol them.”

Spring said Givens pitched well. “He did an excellent job on themound for McComb,” said Spring. “I’ve seen him on two straightoutings and he’s been around the plate consistently. His breakingball has been very effective and he’s getting ahead of a lot ofhitters in the count. If he throws like this the rest of the year,he’s going to be tough no matter who they are playing.”

Aaron Oberschmidt, Banks and McCall all singled for thePanthers’ only hits of the night. Banks (2-2) went six innings andgave up seven hits, four earned runs, struck out nine and walkedfour.

Givens (4-3) went the distance with eight strikeouts and twowalks.

Charles Pittman, Spiers and Abel each had two hits for theTigers.