Soggy forecast could throw monkey wrench into baseball playoffs
The biggest obstacle in West Jones’ quest in reaching the Class 5A state championship baseball series might by Mother Nature.
Weather-guessers are forecasting rain for the next four days, which could throw a monkey wrench into the series that features the Mustangs (25-5) and Pearl River Central (23-11). The winner of this series will face the winner of the Lewisburg/Lafayette series in Pearl for the state title.
Game 1 is scheduled for tonight (Thursday) at 6 in Soso. Game 2 is scheduled for 6. Friday in Carriere and if a third game is necessary, it would be Saturday at 6 in Soso.
If the Mustangs and Blue Devils do outrun the rain this weekend, it sets up a series that features a West Jones team that has not come close to losing in this year’s postseason against a Pearl River Central team that features Ole Miss commit Hayden Dunhurst, one of the top hitters in the state.
Following their sweep of Picayune, West Jones had a subdued celebration as they are focused on exorcising the demons of last year’s South State series against eventual state champion Hattiesburg.
“After last year, that’s been the goal,” WJ coach Trey Sutton said after the Picayune series. “That’s been the mindset since we lost to Hattiesburg.”
West Jones won its first series over Long Beach with a pair of pitching shutouts and then thumped Picayune with an offensive onslaught coupled with quality pitching.
The Blue Devils, meanwhile, swept Wayne County in the first round, then needed three games to get past both West Harrison and North Pike.
Against PRC, the Mustangs will face a team led by Dunhurst, who has walked 45 times, many of those intentional free passes. He has only struck out 11 times. When he does get pitched to, he is hitting .398 with 10 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. Dunhurst has hit two-thirds of the team’s home runs and half of the team’s doubles.
He is one of three PRC players hitting over .300, with junior Mason Treat hitting .324 and senior Austin Dean hitting .319 rounding out the offense. PRC is hitting .287 as a team.
Dean (8-2. 3.29 ERA) and Austin Diebold (8-1, 2.15 ERA) lead the Blue Devils’ pitching staff.
Colson Harris paces West Jones with a .370 batting average, with six doubles, a home run and 20 RBIs. Seven Mustangs are hitting better than .300 on the season.
Since losing two of its last three regular-season games, the Mustangs have won five consecutive contests. WJ had a bye in the first round of the playoffs by way of winning the Region 5-5A championship.
The Stringer Red Devils (23-9) will play in the South State championship series starting tonight (Thursday) against Hamilton. The Red Devils earned the South State title bid with an 8-7 victory over Resurrection Catholic in the deciding third game of the third-round playoff series.
Gunner James and Cayleb Dyess each had two hits, while Jackson Parker and Evan Holifield each had two RBIs in the series-clinching win over Resurrection.
The Red Devils and Hamilton Lions (21-4) were scheduled to play Wednesday night at Stringer. Game 2 will be tonight (Thursday) at Hamilton, which is in Monroe County, at 6 p.m. If a deciding third game is needed, it would be Friday at 6 at Stringer.
The winner of this series will play the winner of the Smithville-West Union series for the state championship.
• In Class 2A, Taylorsville is scheduled to host St. Joseph Catholic tonight (Thursday) at 7:30. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. in Madison and if a third game is needed, it would be Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The winner of this series will play the winner of the Calhoun City-Lake series. Calhoun City leads that series, 1-0.