Mustangs stay hot at the plate and advance to South State series with sweep of Picayune

West Jones remained hot at the plate in Game 2. Combining for 25 hits in its two games vs. Picayune, West Jones hammered out double-digit hits for a second consecutive night and included a double-digit run-scoring inning to sweep Picayune 12-2 Friday night at home in its Class 5A third-round playoff series. 

Though the contest was shortened by mercy rule, it lasted approximately the same amount of time as a regular seven-inning contest due to an hour and 11-minute lightning delay that began just a few pitches into the game.

“We didn’t swing the bats great last week,” said West Jones head baseball coach Trey Sutton. “We came to work at practice this week, and you see the results.”

Adam Bassett’s first home run of the season got things started on the boards. His two-RBI dinger over the left field wall in the second inning scored Cole Tolbert from first, who singled earlier in the frame. Tolbert later homered in the game as well.

Bassett and Colson Harris led West Jones at the plate with three hits and two RBI apiece. 

In the fourth, West Jones broke the game open, as well as Picayune’s spirits, with a 10-run frame. Harris highlighted the inning with a bases loaded two-run single. The Soso sluggers scored 10 runs on six hits, five walks, two passed balls, two Picayune errors and one sac fly by Garrett McLaurin. 

“At times we’ve struggled to get guys on then getting hits to push them across,” Sutton said. “But the last two nights we’ve had guys one through nine swinging the bats well and getting those guys in once we get them on.”

Dustin Dickerson, Garrett McLaurin, and Logan Kelly also belted out hits in the contest.

This series was in stark contrast to the last. Though West Jones swept Long Beach in Round 2, the Mustangs combined for just nine hits and seven runs in the series, compared to the 25 hits and 25 runs vs. Picayune.

“We’ve been waiting all year to hit one through nine [in our lineup],” said Sutton. “We still have a long way to go, but if you’re going to catch fire at the plate, there’s no better time to do it then now.”

Pearl River Community College signee Kris Riley tossed all five frames of the contest for West Jones. Though Riley struggled at times, giving up two earned runs and four walks, including three in the first inning to load the base path for Picayune, the senior southpaw allowing just two hits and struck out eight.

“He struggled a little bit at times tonight, but he only gave up two runs in five innings,” noted Sutton. “So he did a good job regardless. He might not have had his best stuff, but even when he does, he’s still a tough arm to face.”

West Jones now awaits the outcome of the Pearl River Central and North Pike series. North Pike evened the series with a 4-3 win in Game 2. The Mustangs will face one of the two programs in the Class 5A South State series. 

“We shouldn’t need any motivation at this point,” said Sutton. “Both teams represent really good programs. If its PRC, it seems we see them every year in the playoffs. And North Pike has a really good program too. Whoever comes out of that series will be a tough challenge.”

Sports Editor

James is a graduate of Stringer High School and Jones County Junior College. He is an award-winning AP and MS Press photographer, writer, and layout designer.

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