CLARKDALE — After an eight-year absence, St. Stanislaus is headed back to the state baseball championship series.
The Rock-A-Chaws swept past Clarkdale in game two of the best of three Class 3A South State finals Saturday night with an 8-5 road win to make a date for Trustmark Park in Pearl.
The win, coupled with a 5-1 win Thursday night in Bay St. Louis, moves SSC to 21-12 overall and sets up the state title tilt against Defending Class 3A state champion Amory. The last time the Rocks reached the state finals, they beat Houston in 2015 for the Class 4A state title.
The victory and sweep also served as a bit of revenge for SSC, as the Bulldogs eliminated St. Stanislaus in the Class 3A South State semifinals last season.
Ole Miss signee Seth Farni played a big role for SSC in the series-clinching win Saturday night, as he belted a key two-run home run for the Rocks during a five-run rally in the top of the fourth that broke open a 3-3 tie and eventually gave control of the contest to SSC with an 8-3 advantage.
Farni, who had two hits total in the win, also picked up a save on the mound recording the final 10 outs while throwing just over three frames of no-hit baseball and striking out five
Hugh LeMasters started and got the save for the Rocks, working almost five innings and striking out six. He also produced at the plate, collecting a pair of hits including a big two-run single to center field in the top of the third that helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 SSC lead. Chesley Rhodes added a run-scoring double off of the left field wall in that uprising also.
In addition to Farni’s round-tripper in the fateful fourth frame, Willy Mossy broke the 3-3 tie with a run-scoring sacrifice fly just before Farni’s circuit shot. Two more SSC runs scored on a CHS throwing error.
After the Rocks took that aforementioned 8-3 lead, Clarkdale fought back a bit when Parker Webb clacked a two-run single in the bottom of that fourth frame to make it 8-3. Farni then came on and held the Bulldogs hitless and scoreless the rest of the way to wrap up the big win for the Rocks.
Clarkdale finishes the season at 26-8 under veteran head coach Scott Gibson, who is stepping down after 15 seasons and moving into an administrative role at the school.
Amory finished the Class 3A North State finals with a sweep over Kossuth with two wins in a three-day span last week. The Panthers nipped the Aggies 7-6 on Wednesday at home, before hitting the road two days later on Friday and picking up a 7-2 win to wrap things up.
Amory appears on paper to be a formidable foe for the Rocks, as not only are head coach Chris Pace’s Panthers the reigning state champs but AHS stands 31-4 overall and has won eight consecutive playoff games without a loss this postseason. The Panthers swept Seminary in last year’s state finals.