’Stangs await winner of Lafayette-Saltillo series to play for 5A title in Pearl

CARRIERE — Some call them the Soso Sluggers. Others say they’re the Blond Bombers. They could be billed as the Springhill Slingers. But everyone can agree on one new name for the West Jones Mustangs — South State champs.

  They completed the sweep of Pearl River Central, 8-3, to win the Class 5A South State championship Friday night and earn a trip to Trustmark Park in Pearl to play for the state title. The Mustangs (27-5) will play the winner of the Lafayette County-Saltillo series, which was scheduled to continue Monday night in Saltillo with Lafayette holding a 1-0 series lead. Rain has wreaked havoc on the schedules around the state and for the state championship series, which was scheduled to start today (Tuesday).

West Jones batters continued to wreak havoc on Blue Devil pitchers and fielders on Friday night. Leadoff man Walker Thompson went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, Kelton Keene went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Cole Tolbert went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead the Mustangs, who had 12 hits in Game 2 of the series. They had eight hits — three of them home runs — in an 8-1 win in Soso on Wednesday night.

“I’ve just got to get on base and help the guys behind me drive me in and get some runs on the board, because we don’t need many with the arms we’ve got going now,” Thompson said.

Senior southpaw Kris Riley struggled with his control at times, but he shut down the Blue Devils, striking out nine and allowing only one hit in 6-2/3 innings. He walked six — two of them intentional — and hit four batters. Left-hander Luke Leggett faced the final two batters to close out the game, setting off a long-awaited celebration with his teammates.

“It’s tough to get here … 5A South baseball is pretty good,” WJ coach Trey Sutton said. “We’ve made the journey and now we’ve got a good opportunity.”

The scoring started early for the Soso squad. Thompson started the game by reaching base on an error and, after a single by Colson Harris, he scored when Garrett McLaurin reached base on an error at third with two outs to give WJ a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, Thompson delivered a two-out, two run double to center after Keene walked and Adam Bassett was hit by a pitch to set the table. 

With a 3-0 lead, the Mustangs erupted for four runs in the fifth after the middle and bottom of the order went on a tear with five consecutive singles. Riley and McLaurin got things started with one out, then Tolbert, Keene and Bassett had back-to-back-to-back RBI singles

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