Jr. 'Dogs upend Vikes

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   The Hampton Junior Bulldogs fell backwards early in their contest against Vance Middle School on Friday.
   But a strong series of scoring bounced the Junior 'Dogs back into the contest, where they held off the Junior Vikings with an 13-11 victory in Hampton.
   "Our pitching struggled early and we struggled at first," said Hampton coach C.B. Hardin. "I was tickled that they got back in the game. Vance has a good bunch of boys and players; it could've went either way."
   Hampton fell behind 6-0 after the first inning and almost fell wayward to a late comeback from the Vikings. But Josh Cole held his composure on the mound for the Bulldogs in a complete victory.
   "We came back and hit the ball with authority and coaches love to see that," Hardin said. "The kids didn't give up."
   Vance opened the contest loading the bases on walks and hit batters, scoring its first two runs. Jacob Brock stepped up with a fielder's choice RBI play, followed by a Josh Davidson two-run single to take the 6-0 lead.
   Hampton rallied back with two walks, as Adam Townsend and Jarred Irick stole their way around the bases. A wild pitch gave Townsend the stolen run before a Brooks Price double drove in Irick.
   Cody Montgomery stepped up with a crushing RBI triple, then scoring on another passed ball to put Hampton within striking distance.
   A Jeff Baker single gave Vance another chance as an A.C. Coleman single put another run on the board.
   Hampton bounced back with two more walks to Townsend and Irick, setting up another Price two-run double. Four more walks and RBI singles from Townsend and David Caldwell put Hampton on top with a 10-7 lead after the second.
   The Junior Bulldogs bunkered down on the Vikings during the third and fourth innings, using solid defense to help take an offensive advantage in the contest.
   Josh Cole helped pace the team with a double in the third inning for Hampton, scoring on a D.J. Oliver single. Townsend and Brandon Cole tallied two more runs for the home team on pitching errors, giving Hampton a 13-7 advantage.
   Just as the game seemed out of reach, Vance battled back with some offense of their own.
   A triple from Cory White opened the fifth inning up for the Junior Vikings, setting up a Thomas Turnbell RBI single.
   Turnbell reached across the plate after Jacob Brock sent a single through the Hampton infield. Vance had to wait it out during the inning before a Davidson single added another run to the board, bouncing closer to the Bulldog lead.
   Hampton lost control of its hitting late in the game, but rallied with strong defense when it needed it most.
   Vance held Hampton through the sixth inning, getting one final chance to take the victory. Jeff Baker gave his squad an extra step after a single and two stolen bases to open the inning.
   Baker used a throwing error to cut the lead to two with a stolen run, setting his squad up with its strongest part of the lineup. But Cole stood in their way.
   With the outcome of the game riding on his shoulders, Cole tossed three straight strikeouts to keep the victory for the Bulldogs.
   Brooks Price led Hampton with a two of four outing, driving in three RBIs and scoring twice after his pair of doubles. David Caldwell knocked in a run on his two for three afternoon.
   The Junior Vikings made five different rotations on the mound throughout the game, with Jacob Brock taking the loss late.
   Hampton travels to Cloudland for a 4 p.m. game on Tuesday against the 'Lander JV squad.