Buckley’s grand slam lifts Co-Lin over Gulf Coast

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WESSON – Co-Lin freshman Willie Buckley solved Gulf Coastpitcher Anthony Izzio’s dazzling slider just in the nick of time.Buckley launched a 2-out, walkoff, grand slam home run in thebottom of the eighth inning to give Co-Lin’s Wolfpack a thrilling9-6 Tuesday victory over the Bulldogs from Perkinston.

Gulf Coast (17-17, 10-6) came back strong and won the SouthDivision nightcap 15-5 in windswept Sullivan Stadium.

Co-Lin (19-19, 8-12) travels to Hinds at Raymond Friday for a SouthDivision twinbill, starting at noon.

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Co-Lin 9, Gulf Coast 6

Buckley’s game-winning clout hooked over the left field foul polescreen, igniting a joyful celebration at home plate. The Bulldogshad taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the 8th.

In the bottom of the 8th, Co-Lin’s Edmund Cheatham was hit by apitch. Bud Britt singled to left and Kolby Byrd reached on an errorto load the bases with 2 away.

“(Izzio) threw me sliders all day so I knew what was coming,” saidBuckley, a Lawrence County product. “I knew (pitch) was gone when Ihit it.”

Izzio (5-2), Gulf Coast’s ace pitcher from Vancleave, gave up 2earlier home runs to third baseman Bud Britt. He struck out 8batters, walked 3 and allowed 11 hits, plus hitting 2batters.

Britt, a sophomore from Brookhaven, also doubled and singled in thevictory. He hit a leadoff solo homer in the fifth and a towering2-run shot in the 6th that tied the game at 5-5.

“We were down by two runs and needed to tie it up,” said Britt. “Isaid, ‘Lord, give me the strength to hit.’ It was a slider andstarted right at me and broke right over the plate.”

Co-Lin coach Keith Case saw high and low points in the contest. “Itwas a funny game. There were so many ups and downs. Our kids wereaggressive and they didn’t’ quit.”

On the mound, Co-Lin overcame adversity. Scheduled starter RyanKennedy developed arm pain prior to the game and was replaced bysubmariner Cody Wall who was greeted by Michael Paul’s leadoffhomer in the top of the first as a gusting wind blew from right toleft field.

Freshman southpaw Devon Whitbey replaced Wall in the second inningand produced a solid performance. Whitbey (6 K, 3 BB) hit 2batters. He gave up 4 runs and 4 hits.

Whitbey, from Milton, Fla., said he was happy to get the win. “Itwas a close game and my pitches were working. The wind was blowingabout 40 miles an hour.”

Case said Whitbey, “Came in and pitched well.”

The Bulldogs went up 6-5 in the top of the eighth on Ben Slayton’sRBI single to right.

Gulf Coast 15, Co-Lin 5

The Bulldogs, coached by former Mississippi State standout GaryRath, scored their first 10 runs on just 3 hits. Three walks, 3 hitbatters and 1 error fueled the explosion in a 13-runexplosion.

Co-Lin starter Raymond Winter gave up 2 hits and 5 runs. He hit 2batters. It was his second loss in 6 games.

Tripp Jolly (1 K, 1 BB) went 1 inning. He gave up 5 hits and 8runs, hitting 1 batter.

“You have to be able to play defense and pitch well to stay close,”said Case. “Give Gulf Coast credit for coming back and playinghard.”

Sophomore Nick Purdy was the winning pitcher with relief help fromTim Maloney and Tyler Bray in the 5-inning game.

Offensively, Co-Lin got doubled from Cheatham and Britt and 2 hitsfrom Bryce Guess.