CATEGORY: Baseball

AUTHOR: TODD

HED:West Point ousted in final

By Todd Vinyard

Daily Journal

About the time West Point figured out Oklahoma pitcher Michael Bradbury, along came shortstop Seth Brown to save the day and Senior American Legion MidSouth Regional championship for the Solow Glass team from Tulsa, Okla.

Bradbury went into the seventh inning with a no-hitter and a 3-0 lead before West Point first baseman Scott Atwood belted a home run to left field. West Point wouldn't quit. The Packers had runners on first and third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 4-2 when Brown turned in an Ozzie Smith-like shortstop gem.

West Point pinch hitter Jeremy Bell lined a shot to Brown's right. Brown, the lone senior on Oklahoma's squad, dove on the ground stopped the ball and tossed it to second base for the final out with the greatest of ease.

"It was instinct," said Brown of his play in the 4-2 victory in front of 500 fans at Tupelo High School baseball field. "I just saw the ball and went to go get it."

Brown ended up getting Oklahoma a trip to the Senior American Legion World Series in Rapids, South Dakota. It was Tulsa's four regional title (1970, 1979, 1981, and 1997). Oklahoma will face the winner of the West Region.

Neither Bradbury nor West Point pitcher Jeffrey Hunter saved any pitching tricks. Both went nine innings. Bradbury struck out 12 while walking only one. Hunter had 10 strikeouts while walking only two.

Bradbury kept West Point's No. 2-4 hitters (Josh West, Derry Hammond, and Atwood) in check for a combined 1-for-12.

Defensive mistakes hurt West Point.

"The difference was the unearned runs," West Point coach Frank Portera said. "Jeff pitched a great ball game, only giving up one earned run. But we just had some errors at key times."

An error and wild pitch by West Point in the seventh led to two Oklahoma runs. In the ninth another West Point error allowed Nick Zodrow to score Oklahoma's final run.

West Point scored its second run in eighth inning. Packer center fielder Robert McKay singled to score Terry Thomas.

"This program has kept building," Portera said. "I am proud of what our kids accomplished and how they represented Mississippi."

Oklahoma, which was made up primarily of high school players from Owasso High School, lost four of its last five regular season games before winning 14 in a row.

"Pitching has been outstanding for us throughout the stretch," Oklahoma coach Brent McConnell said.

Brown took home the Gatorade MVP and a American Legion scholarship for $1,000. Atwood, who led the tournament with four home runs, was named the Buick $1,000 scholarship winner.

The best hitter in the five-day tournament was Tupelo's Billy Curry, who hit .500 with six RBI and one home run. West Point had the highest team average at .261.

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