It must be the pizza.
The Gulfport Admirals pulled off a 4-3 win over Tupelo in Game 2 of the Class 6A state title series on Thursday to tie the series 1-1 and set up Saturday’s Game 3 at 4 p.m. at Trustmark in Pearl.
The Admirals missed out on their pregame meal from Gulfport’s Brooklyn Pizzeria prior to Game 1 on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Brooklyn Pizzeria made sure the Admirals had the same meal they’ve had before every home game this season.
Gulfport junior Patrick Nelms, who has four hits in the series, admitted after the game that the pizza must have made an impact Thursday night in Pearl.
“It must, it must,” he said with a smile. “It’s the playing on the field that matters. But hey, all the superstitions matter too I guess.”
The Admirals will take the field Saturday one win away from clinching the program’s first state championship since 1985.
“It’s fantastic coming back for Game 3,” Nelms said. “We’re going to win it all.”
Gulfport coach Jamie McMahon predicts a “Dog fight.”
The series has been as tight as they come through two games with both teams scoring five runs through 17 innings of competition. Both games have entered extra innings – 8 in Game 1 and 9 in Game 2.
Every little mistake and big play are magnified with each inning.
“It’s pretty intense,” Gulfport senior Ethan Saucier said. “It’s real nerve wracking.”
McMahon was still uncertain Friday on who will be his starting pitcher for Saturday’s contest.
“We’ll have two guys available to go so we’re OK. We’ll have two relievers right behind them,” he said. “It will be a battle royale for the last one.”
Tupelo is also unsettled on who it will put on the pitcher’s mound in Game 3.
McMahon may have the option of using senior right-hander Holden McHugh, who threw 52 inches in relief during Thursday’s win in nine innings. McHugh is 6-0 with a 0.68 ERA this season.
McHugh has gotten himself in trouble on more than one occasion in the postseason, but he always finds a way to escape big innings.
“He calms himself down after he gets a little worked up,” McMahon said. “He’s got a cutter that gets the ground ball and double plays. He’s been good.”
Max Barnes, Dylan Ladner and Jacob Roberts haven’t taken the mound yet in the series.