PEARL — Gulfport came into Tuesday’s first game of the Class 6A state championship series against Lewisburg needing two wins to capture just the second overall baseball state title in school history and first in 38 years.
The Admirals still need two more wins to accomplish the historical feat.
After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Patriots scored single runs in both the second and third innings, and a strong LHS pitching staff made the one-run advantage stand up as the Patriots took a 2-1 win over Gulfport in the first game here at Trustmark Park.
Game two is set for Thursday night at the home of the Mississippi Braves, with the first pitch slated once again for 7 p.m. A third game, if Gulfport should manage to pull out a win in game two, would be set for Saturday.
“It’s a best-of-three series, and we’re aware of that,” veteran Admiral head coach Jamie McMahon said. “We’ve been down this season before. We just need to bounce back on Thursday and find a way to win and then see what happens on Saturday.”
All of the scoring came in the first three frames of action.
In the top of the first, Gulfport’s Dawson Hall gave the Admirals their only lead of the game on a two-out. RBI-sacrifice fly to left field that gave Gulfport a 1-0 lead.
The Patriots responded quickly in the bottom of the second, as a one-out out single from Cooper Bennett tied things up at 1-1.
Lewisburg took the lead for good in the bottom of the third frame, when Mississippi State signee Gage Haley lofted an RBI-sacrifice fly to center field that put the Patriots up 2-1 and ended the scoring.
Gulfport was held to just two hits by Baylor commit Cayden Baker, who tossed 6.2 innings of work and had five strikeouts for Lewisburg. Southpaw Tanner Haley, a Vanderbilt commit, came in to record the final out and secure the win.
Nathan Edwards had a double in the loss for Gulfport. The Admirals got a pair of runners on base with two outs in the top of the fifth, as Ethan Suroweic reached on an error and Jacob Palazzo singled. But Baker rebounded to close out the inning with a strikeout and end the threat.
Gulfport ace Josh Lee was the tough luck loser, as he only allowed two hits as well in a complete game performance striking out seven and walking three.
Bennett had both of Lewisburg’s hits, both were singles.
The opening round of the state championship continues on Wednesday with three more games, as Class 2A, Class 4A and Class 5A join in the fray. East Central faces Saltillo in Class 5A’s game one Wednesday night at 7 p.m.