Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi on May 18, 1990 · Page 23
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Clarion-Ledger from Jackson, Mississippi · Page 23

Jackson, Mississippi
Issue Date:
Friday, May 18, 1990
Page 23
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SCOREBOARD BASEBALL CLASSIFIED THE CLARION-LEDGER U JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI FRIDAY, MAY 18, 1990 Cincinnati solves Gilligan, trips USM 4-3 RICK CLEVELAND " Executive Sports Editor 'X The Clarion-Ledger r; J ; Watch these guys: They'll spot you decades and win Everyone involved in the Trustmark Southern Seniors tennis tournament at River Hills Club this week seems to have a favorite Nehe-miah Atkinson story. Tournament official Peter Marks: "A couple of years ago, Nehemiah was playing a match right over there. His opponent hit a high lob behind him that most people would have just let go. But he turned and sprinted after it. Then he lumped up and hit a graceful, scissors-kick overhead for a winner. I swear he got 4 feet off the ground. He looked like Michael Jordan flying through the air. It was unbelievable." Marks' astonishment becomes more understandable when you understand that Nehemiah Atkinson was 70 years old at the time. Atkinson will be 73 in September, but there he was again Thursday morning on Court 1-A, running down lobs and drop shots, serving aces and winning his match love and love. He appears 72 going on 27. He is a running, cunning advertisement for the health benefits of tennis. And he is not alone. Meet Gene Ray, 76, a slender left-hander from Atlanta, and the defending champion and No. 1 seed in the Southern Seniors 75s division. Ray, who didn't play serious, tournament tennis until he was 57, has been ranked as high as No. 6 nationally in his age group. "I thought I'd probably quit when I was 70, but I just felt too good to give it up," Ray said, and then he chuckled. "So I decided to move on up to the fossils division." Competitive codgers Tennis is far from a laughing matter for the geriatric set here. That's especially true if you happen to be on the other side of the net from someone like Atkinson or Ray, who remain as competitive as Wimbledon finalists. "Two things never change," said Ray. 1'That's the ecstasy of victory and the agony of Idefeat. If you lose the competitive edge, you I ; might as well not show up." ' Atkinson and Ray are as different as, well, j Iblack and white. Atkinson is black, a pioneer in 1 Southern tennis for his race. Ray is white. At-'kinson is right-handed, Ray a southpaw. Ray is ' a retired civil service worker. Atkinson still works for the New Orleans Recreation Depart- ment tennis division, of course. Atkinson spends 6 to 8 hours a day, nearly every day, on I the court. Ray says he plays an average of twice r a week. Atkinson eats very little meat. Ray pre-; fers a thick, juicy steak the night before an im portant match. ' But the two are alike, too. Both would rather eat oyster shells than lose. Both play a style of tennis steeped in strategy rather than power. Atkinson began playing at the age of 10 with a wooden paddle made in his father's workshop. After World War II, he helped form the first black tennis club in New Orleans and introduced many of his race to the sport. Atkinson gave David Harris his first lesson nearly 30 years ago. Harris, 40, now competes in the Southern Seniors, too. Said Harris, "The thing about Nehemiah is that he still can beat a lot of us. He still beats me." V . "There's a science to tennis," Atkinson said. "There's a science to it, and I got it. I outthink a lot of the young players." Those in his age group, Atkinson often outclasses, physically as well. Others seem to play in slow motion compared to him. No end in sight Ray has played the sport for 60 years but competitively only for 19. Tournaments didn't become part of his life until he retired from the civil service. Then he made up for lost time. He hasn't lost a match in his age group since 1988. The only exercise Ray gets other than a couple matches a week is the work he does around his yard. "I don't overdo it," he said. "I know how much tennis is right for me." Both Atkinson and Ray dearly love their sport. Dearly, indeed. "Tennis has been good for me and I'd like to think I've been good for tennis," Atkinson said. "I'll play till I can't." "If it weren't for tennis, I'd probably be bored to death," said Ray. Neither needs to think about quitting any time soon. The oldest age group in the Southern Seniors is 75-and-over. But nationally, there is a division for 85-and-up. Said Ray, "Who knows? ..." Gilligan loses no-hitter and 3-0 lead in seventh inning as Golden Eagles fall. By Robert Wilson Clarlon-Ladgar Staff Writer HATTIESBURG Southern Mississippi's John Gilligan no-hit Cincinnati for six innings. Then, the Bearcats went to work. Cincinnati's Tony Elsbrock and Dave Abbott hit home runs to lift the Bearcats to a 4-3 victory over USM Thursday night in the Metro Conference Tournament before 1,874 at Pete Taylor Park. No. 6 seed Cincinnati completed its second straight upset of the tournament with its win over No. 2 seed USM. The Bearcats upset third-seed- ed South Carolina 6-2 Wednesday in the first round. Cincinnati, 22-27, meets top-seeded and seven-time defending champion Florida State, 50-12, today at 7 p.m. FSU, ranked No. 3 by Collegiate BaseballESPN and No. 4 by Baseball America, beat No. 4 seed Virginia Tech 11-3. USM, 40-22, lost for the first time in six games and meets fifth-seeded Memphis State, 31-24, today at 3 p.m. Cincinnati had lost to USM three straight times in its regular-season series and nine straight since 1985. "It was time for us to win," Cincinnati winning pitcher Tim Malone said. "They beat us pretty good at Cincinnati and Gilligan beat us in the Metro Tournament last year." Cincinnati third basemen Chuck Barlage broke up Gilligan's no-hitter to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Barlage hit a grounder up the middle. USM junior second baseman Scotty Jurich stopped the ball, but Barlage beat his throw to first. Gilligan picked off Barlage, but Elsbrock hit a one-out homer and Abbott added a two-out, three-run shot for a 4-3 lead. Gilligan, 11-3, allowed five hits before being replaced by Marc Kubicki with one out in the eighth. "We were confident we were going to get to him (Gilligan). We finally did," Abbott said. "We have a good team. We just haven't won a lot of games. But we are putting it all together now. We know we can do it." "Everything was going great. I was cruising along until I started steering pitches," Gilligan said. "I put the ball See USM, 6C Metro tournament At Hattiesburg Pete Taylor Park Wednesday Virginia Tech 6, Memphis State 4 Florida State 4, Tulane 1 Cincinnati 6, South Carolina 2 Southern Mississippi 5, Louisville 1 Thursday Memphis State 1 1, Tulane 5 South Carolina 3, Louisville 2 Florida State 11, Virginia Tech 3 Cincinnati 4, Southern Mississippi 3 Today 1 1 a.m. South Carolina vs. Virginia Tech 3 p.m. USM vs. Memphis State 7 p.m. Cincinnati vs. Florida State Note: Complete brackets, 2C A A i A : mi ' 7 - I ' . f : Scott Boyd The Clarion-Ledger Tommy Raffo of Mississippi State is safe at second as this ball and the game slip away from Auburn, as the Bulldogs breeze to a 16-2 victory in an SEC Tournament opener. bare Aiyitara H S Bulldogs send 17 batters to the plate and come away with v1 1 runs in the sixth inning. By Rusty Hampton Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer HOOVER, Ala. Mississippi State used a tournament-record 11 -run sixth inning to beat Auburn 16-2 Thursday and advance to the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. - The third-seeded Bulldogs, 42-17, play regular-season champion LSU today at 8 p.m. LSU, 45-15, beat Florida 6-4. State's Chris George, 9-4, will face Paul Byrd, 14-5, in a matchup between teams that split four one-run games this season. "It's great to play in tight games where every little thing counts," said State catcher Jim Robinson, looking ahead to tonight's game. "It's always fun to play them. It's a great rivalry. We like playing against the best and we think they're the best." Auburn certainly wasn't at its best Thursday. The Tigers, who led the league in walks, walked 15 and hit one. They also made five erors. Starter Mark Fuller, 6-3, walked four in . three-plus innings. He took the loss. Tommy Carter walked three, Jon Hebel three, Mike Martin one and Alec Newi four. Even with all of Auburn's charity, the game was close until the sixth, which began with State leading 3-2. A Hoover Metropolitan Stadium crowd of 7,236 announced by tournament officials as the largest to watch a college baseball game in Alabama saw the Bulldogs send 17 batters to the plate in the 11 -run inning. State got just four hits in the inning, but got plenty of help from the Tigers, who made a two-out error, walked eight and hit one. See BULLDOGS, 6C SEC Tournament At Hoover, Ala. Hoover Metropolitan Stadium Thursday Vanderbilt 6, Georgia 3 LSU 6, Florida 4 Miss. State 16, Auburn 2 Today Noon: Florida vs. Georgia 4 p.m.: Auburn vs. Vandy 8 p.m.: Miss. State vs. LSU Note: Complete brackets, 2C High school elite line up for Meet of Champions More than 1 50 of the state's best are expected for the track and field showdown at Pearl. By Bill Spencer Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer On May 12, Danny Johnson of Carthage wrote Mississippi high school track and field history. Saturday, Johnson hopes to add a chapter. Johnson the state's first 50-foot triple jumper is among an elite field in The Clarion-Ledger Meet of Champions, also sponsored by the Pearl Track Club. In its second year, the meet is designed to attract the top athletes in the state regardless of class. Athletes must run unattached from their schools. Field events start at 4 p.m; at the Pearl Track and Field Facility. Preliminaries for Meet of Champions What: High school track meet When: Saturday, 4 p.m. Where: Pearl Track and Field Facil ity Admission: $2 at the gate running events start at 5 p.m. The rest of the schedule: 3,200 meters, 6 p.m.; 100110 hurdles, 6:30 p.m.; 100, 6:45 p.m.; 1,600, 7 p.m.; 400 relay, 7:15 p.m.; 400, 7:30 p.m.; 300 hurdles, 7:45 p.m.; 800, 8 p.m.; 200, 8:15 p.m.; 1,600 relay, 8:30 p.m. Last Saturday at Hughes Field, Johnson uncorked a state meet record of 50 feet, 10V4 inches in his specialty, a performance that possibly ranks the senior among the top five in the nation. Erick Walder of Mobile (Ala.) Murphy has the season best of 52-0. The national high school record is 53-9Vi. "I'm shooting for 54," said Johnson, who scratched by inches on 52-0 at the state meet. His main competition should come from junior Wallace Polk of Port Gibson (48-8V4) and freshman George Franklin of Pearl (48-4). Franklin's personal best is 4'A inches shy of the national freshman record. Meet directors Woody Barnett and Mike Carr of Pearl expect 150-plus athletes. "This meet sold itself last year," Barnett said. "In Mississippi, a lot of our kids don't get to run just one or two events. They usually run three events and the relays. This gives them a chance to specialize and see how fast they can really run." Barnett believes the addition of the 400 and 1,600 relays will generate excitement. "Everybody likes relays," Barnett said, "and they're going to be fast. We've invited some quality kids. Usually by the time you get to the mile relay, everybody is worn out. That won't be the case in this meet." The boys 800 and 1,600 should be in tense. Devel Gray of Meridian has reported state-best times of 1 minute, 57.4 seconds and 4:20.3, respectively. He should be challenged in the 800 by Undra Denson of Pearl, Mykhael Gordon of Meridian and Joseph Walker of Oxford. Walker and Christopher Shaw of Natchez should be Gray's main competition in the 1,600. Tracy Knight of Hattiesburg, the state meet record holder in the shot put (45-2), highlights the girls field. Knight also has a state-best 129-4 in the discus. Others to Watch: Kendrick Roach, Shaw, 400; Jason Wisner, Natchez, shot put; Destin Wilson, Brandon, pole vault; Rosie Gaines, Vaiden, 100, 200; Nicole Franklin, Pontotoc, 100, 200, long jump. TV today The best: It's least in the East against the best in the West when the St. Louis Cardinals try to extend their two-game winning streak when they meet the Cincinnati Reds at 6:30 p.m. on WDBD (Chan nel 40 in Jackson). The rest: The Rangers and Orioles are on ESPN at 6:30. Also, there's Pirates-Braves on TBS at 6:35 and, Cubs-Astros on WGN at 7:30. Ik fl Coats gets NCAA invite LSU freshman Kristi Coats of Hattiesburg has received an invitation to the NCAA wbmen's golf tournament next week at Hilton Head, S.C. Coats is only the second freshman to receive an NCAA individual invitation. Coats' coach, Karen, Bahnsen, was the first in 1980. Coats, the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, is ranked No. 28 in the nation and finished the regular season with a 77.46 stroke average. Coats is the daughter of Hattiesburg High School football' coach Willie Coats. ; , . 1 Thursday sports by the NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Spurs 112 Trail Blazers 97 BASEBALL SEC Tournament Vanderbilt 6 Georgia 3 LSU 6 Florida 4 Miss. State 16 Auburn 2 Metro Tournament Memphis St. 1 1 Tulane 5 S. Carolina 3 Louisville 2 Florida St. 11 ..: Va.Tech3 Cincinnati 4.... USM 3 numbers NAIA Playoffs William Carey 13 North Wood 7 Major Leagues Mariners 14 Blue Jays 6 Brewers 6 Angels 3 Twins 4 Yankees 1 White Sox 7 Orioles 3 Tigers 7 Rangers 5 Cardinals 3 RedsO Braves 6 Pirates 1 Astros 5 Cubs 4 Texas League Wichita 9 , Jackson 7 jaiiuuiniiiiuin mum iim .ijpiimiiimiuiikliiiihwiiiii.i i.iiiiDiipin.ji.ji nummv i"ii' 1 1 mi ii i ii in ill nil irn i i.iiri.1 ri.fii....i Inside The local flavor in the 35-and-over division of the 25th Trustmark Southern Seniors is significantly diluted in the second round with Tupelo's Russell Blair remaining, SC. Erise Wilson throws a no-hitter and sets up the winning run as Columbus Caldwell wins 1-0 over Wingfield in eight innings in the Class 4A state playoffs, ec. Scott Hollingsworth drives in two runs and pitches a one-hitter to lead No. 1 Clinton to a 3-1 victory over Moss Point in the Class 5A playoffs, 6C. St Andrew's advances to the Class 1A semifinals by beating Biggersville 8-4, 6C. 1 afltlH aalT B. if1 T af f erf .afl. jfl -il'-J'-Jt' Ttl -ff -fl jrfflrrj fli1rH JIVef'-jH' T'ir 1"' T

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