Class 6A has existed in the Mississippi High School Activities Association for 14 seasons. And a school from the “Southern Six” has never won a state baseball championship in the largest classification in the state during that time.
And now, the Gulfport Admirals are the final team on the diamond with a chance to break that drought before the landscape once again changes in classification for the first time since 2010.
The last state baseball championship in the largest classification in the state that a team in the “Southern Six” brought home was 15 years ago, in 2008, when the Ocean Springs Greyhounds pulled off that accomplishment in Class 5A.
Now, in the final year before the MHSAA implements for the first time ever a Class 7A that will consist of the 24 largest schools enrollment-wise into the top classification, Gulfport becomes the last squad eligible to make their mark in Class 6A when it is actually the top dog.
The Admirals host, ironically enough, the defending Class 6A state champion Northwest Rankin to begin the best-of-three South State finals Tuesday night at Herbert Wilson Field.
Both Gulfport and the Cougars come into this round on hot streaks, as each is unbeaten at 6-0 through the first three rounds of the Class 6A state playoffs. The Admirals have swept through St. Martin, Warren Central and Brandon while The Cougars have done the same over Oak Grove, Biloxi and Petal.
On paper, Gulfport’s path to this point has been a bit tougher as both Warren Central and Brandon were region champions. In fact, the Admirals were just a bad inning away from being Region 8-6A champs themselves.
On Saturday, April 1st, in what must have seemed like an April Fool’s Day joke gone awry, Gulfport took a 12-4 lead over arch-rival Biloxi with a six-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning on the road at The Biloxi Sports Complex.
Suddenly, a weather delay cause the game to be stopped and play resumed over an hour later. The series, at that point, was tied up at 1-1 after the teams split a pair of games earlier that week so that third and final game would be a key tie-breaker for the region title if it came down to the end of the season.
The Indians stormed back after the weather delay to tally 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth to snatch victory back from the jaws of defeat and take the series two games to one. The win allowed the Indians to finish at 7-3 in league play just a game ahead of the Admirals who were 6-3.
However, the loss and resulting second seed seemed to favor Gulfport in the long run with more favorable match-ups in the Class 6A South State playoffs as Biloxi was swept out of the playoffs with two straight losses to Northwest Rankin in the second round of play while Gulfport and the Cougars have won six straight postseason games.