Nearly five months after the West Jones Mustangs’ football team defeated Picayune in the South State championship game, the WJ baseball team will try to dispatch the Maroon Tide to earn a spot in the South State baseball title series.
Game 1 of the best-of-3 series is scheduled for tonight (Thursday) at 7 at Picayune. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday night at 7 at West Jones. If a third game is needed, it would be Saturday at 7 p.m. at Picayune.
The winner of this series will play either Pearl River Central (21-10) or North Pike (15-9) in the South State title series May 9-11.
Both PRC and North Pike needed a third game to defeat West Harrison and Brookhaven, respectively, in the second round.
Meanwhile, Picayune (17-9) and West Jones (23-5) eased into the third round of the playoffs with sweeps.
West Jones defeated Long Beach, 4-0 and 3-0, while Picayune defeated Stone, 6-2 and 10-3.
The Mustangs and Tide have only played one common opponent — Gulfport in March — with WJ defeating the Admirals and the Tide falling to the 6A team from the Gulf Coast.
Picayune is led by senior Kyler Lauga, who is hitting .388 with three doubles, a triple and five stolen bases. Junior Chad Stockstill is hitting .321 and leads the team with three homers and 20 RBIs. The Tide is hitting .295 as a team.
On the mound, the Tide is led by a pair of juniors — Logan Ledet (1.62 ERA) and Luke Smith (1.69 ERA) — who combined for 11 of the Tide’s 17 wins. Ledet has struck out 77 batters, while Smith had fanned 60. Junior Kade Turnage has two saves.
West Jones is hitting .293 as a team, led by junior Kelton Keene’s .344 average, two doubles and two triples. Colson Harris (.338, four doubles, two triples, a home run and 18 RBIS), Walker Thompson (.329. three doubles, 11 RBIs), Dustin Dickerson (.329, eight doubles, two home runs and 27 RBIS) and Cole Tolbert (.314, four doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs) round out the Mustangs hitting over .300.
The Mustangs’ pitching staff, coming off two straight shutouts, has a team ERA of 2.16, led by Kris Riley, who is 5-1 with a 1.08 ERA. Three other pitchers — Garrett McLaurin, Sam Hill and Dustin Dickerson — have ERAs below 2.30.
In the north half of the 5A bracket, Lafayette will play Ridgeland while Saltillo will play Lewisburg with trips to the North State championship series on the line.
In Class 1A, Stringer defeated Ethel, 5-1, in the deciding third game to advance to the third round of the playoffs.
The Red Devils are scheduled to play at Resurrection Catholic tonight (Thursday) at 6.
In Class 2A, Taylorsville defeated Enterprise-Lincoln, 11-1, on Monday to advance to face Mize in the third round. Game 1 is set for tonight (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. at Mize.