PEARL — Just like the past two series in the Class 5A state playoffs, defending Class 5A state champion East Central must win game three of a best-of-three series to survive.
And, if the Hornets do so, they’ll make school history.
North State champion Saltillo pulled out a 2-1 win over East Central in game two of this Class 5A state championship series here at Trustmark Park Friday night to even up this series at one game apiece. The Class 5A state champion will be determined Saturday afternoon starting at around 4 p.m., here at the home of the Mississippi Braves, the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate.
There wasn’t a bunch of Tomahawk chops for either team in game two, as after three scoreless innings the Tigers tallied two runs in the top of the fourth frame to take a 2-0 lead that would eventually stand up. Both Jacob Brown and Dawson Arriola registered RBI-singles to plate the pair of Saltillo runs.
East Central, looking for the first back-to-back state titles in school history, picked up its only run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth stanza when with one out Logan Terry walked and the next batter Nate Trochessett doubled to left field to plate courtesy runner Coday Baria and cut Saltillo’s lead in half at 2-1 still with one out.
.But Trochessett was caught stealing and Andrew Marble popped out to end the inning and basically end the Hornets’ threat to sweep the series after East Central took game one on Tuesday 4-1.
Righty hurler Gavin McCoy, a Northwest Community College signee, produced a dominant pitching performance on the hill for Saltillo in picking up the win as he allowed five hits and struck out four and walked three in the complete game effort.
East Central pitcher Eli Smith also went the distance, allowing seven hits and striking out four and walking two and allowing the two runs in taking the loss.
The junior infielder Trochessett had two of East Central’s five hits in the game and tallied the Hornets’ only RBI.
Saltillo’s Luke Wood collected a game-high three hits in the winning attack.
There are only two series’ left to be decided in the annual Mississippi High School Activities Association state baseball championships, and both involve squads from the “Southern Six”
St. Stanislaus and defending Class 3A state champion Amory meet at 1 p.m., on Saturday to decide that match. And then, 30 minutes after that contest, East Central and Saltillo will face off in the final prep baseball match-up of the season in the state of Mississippi to decide the Class 5A crown.
The only other time ECHS has been in this position was 2009 after the Hornets won the 2008 state title. The Hornets returned to the state title round but lost to West Lauderdale in three games.