In the midst of the craziness that surrounds prep basketball in South Mississippi in early-to-mid February every year as region tourneys and subsequently, state playoffs commence in gyms across the “Southern Six” outdoors on diamonds and fields prep baseball comes alive as well.
And this season is no different.
While almost 40 prep basketball squads from across our area of coverage qualified for the state playoffs, 24 baseball teams took to the dirt earlier this week as well as yet another season on the diamond got started.
In what has become an annual affair, perennial “Southern Six” powers Ocean Springs and East Central faced off in the opening week of action with a pair of meetings.
The defending Class 5A state champion Hornets swept the Greyhounds in the two-game set, winning 7-3 on Tuesday as well as 3-0 on Wednesday night. Both games took place at Greyhound Park in Ocean Springs, instead of the usual home-and-home pairings, due to work going on at East Central’s home field.
On Tuesday, in the season-opener for both squads, East Central took a 1-0 lead in the third inning that expanded to 3-0 after four innings and then blossomed to 7-0 in the top of the fifth before Ocean Springs got on the board with a single run. The Greyhounds then added single runs as well in both the sixth and seventh frames, but the damage done by the Hornets was too much to overcome.
Brandt Dickerson collected three hits and drove in three runs in the winning effort for ECHS, while Nate Trochessett had three hits as well including a double in the Hornets’ 10-hit attack.
Meanwhile, East Central’s T.J. Dunsford, a Southern Miss signee, kept the Greyhounds at bay for the first five innings as his Hornets built up an insurmountable lead as he struck out eight and scattered two hits while walking just one and picking up the win on the hill for ECHS.
J.P.Ford picked up both Ocean Springs hits on the night, in what was new OSHS head coach Tommy Walker’s debut at the helm of the Greyhounds. McCarty English, also a Southern Miss signee, took the loss for OSHS as he started and worked into the fourth frame allowing five hits and three runs while striking out six.
On Wednesday night, the visiting Hornets wasted no time in taking a lead they wouldn’t surrender as ECHS scored two runs in the top of the first as Dunsford scored on a wild pitch and Trochessett delivered an RBI single.
East Central added an insurance run in the fifth when Haydn Porter led off the frame with a double and later scored on a sacrifice by Brayson Owenby to complete the scoring.
The trio of runs was more than enough for Hornet starting hurler Eli Smith, who allowed only one hit over five frames while striking out 11 and walking just one. Smith not only picked up the win but he combined with a trio of relievers to limit OSHS to just three singles in the shutout.
Brockton Cantrell took the loss for the Greyhounds.
East Central faces Pascagoula Friday night at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, while the Greyhounds.