A trio of teams from the “Southern Six” are among the four in the Class 5A South State semifinals this week.
But only one came up with a win as the two series’ started Tuesday night.
Defending Class 5A state champion East Central took yet another step towards defending its crown as the home-standing Hornets dispatched Picayune in business-like fashion 8-1.
Meanwhile, visiting Vancleave fell 4-0 to West Jones in Soso.
In Hurley, Southern Miss signee and all around versatile standout T.J. Dunsford was too much for Picayune to handle as he not only tossed a complete game four-hitter striking out nine on the mound but he blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the first to give the Hornets a lead they would never relinquish. Dunsford, also an all-state linebacker in football, finished with two hits and two RBIs at the plate as well.
East Central began to break open the game in the third frame, adding three more runs as Dunsford and Andrew Marble had RBI-singles and Haydn Porter scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0.
The Hornets then ended any speculation of a possible Maroon Tide comeback by tallying four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to put the game out of reach. Brandt Dickerson’s two run single was the big blow in that stanza, while Anthony Tanner added an RBI-single and Marble scored on yet another passed ball to make it 8-0.
Picayune’s only run came in the top of the seventh as Parker Helton drove in Peyton Wells on a fielder’s choice.
Dunsford moved to 9-1 on the mound with the win. Marble had a game-high three hits to pace ECHS at the plate.
Tanner Busby took the loss for Picayune, starting and working the first three frames.
Game two is set for Kent Kirkland Field in Picayune on Friday night.
In Soso Tuesday night, after a fairly lengthy weather delay, the Bulldogs and Mustangs were scoreless after three frames. But West Jones broke on to the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth with two runs and then added solo runs in each of the fifth and sixth to take a seemingly comfortable 4-0 lead into the seventh stanza.
But Vancleave fought back, rallying for three runs in that inning before the comeback attempt fell just short. Tyler West, Asher Henley and Hunter Harper each drove in a run for the Bulldogs, and Tanner Willis added a double for VHS. West had two hits to lead the Bulldogs at the plate.
Bulldog ace Hunter Parker went the distance in taking the loss, striking out 12 in six stanzas and allowing five hits and all four Mustang runs. Lawson Odom started for West Jones and tossed the first six stanzas to pick up the win. He was dominant against VHS, striking out 12 and scattering just three hits over his six scoreless frames.
Game two is set for Friday night at “The Landing” in Vancleave. The winner of these two series face off next week in the Class 5A South State finals with a trip to the state championship round on the line.