High School Sports

No. 1 Gulfport overcomes early blunders, clinches Region 8-6A with rivalry win

Going into what ended up being his final at-bat of the night, Gabe Lacy had something else in the back of his mind. Earlier in the game, the Gulfport shortstop had bobbled a softly hit grounder, allowing rival Harrison Central to score its first run and tie the game later in the inning.

Facing Harrison Central ace Jordan Harris with the game still tied in the seventh inning and two outs, Lacy pulled a ball deep to left field. The Red Rebel fielder dove in an attempt to snag the ball but came up empty, allowing Dillon Brown to score the decisive run in the No. 1 Admirals’ 3-2 victory.

“I was just trying to battle, battle and find a way on, any how, any way, and hit the ball hard somewhere,” Lacy said. “It was right at (the left fielder). I didn’t know if it was going to fall or not.

“Luckily it fell.”

In addition to being Gulfport’s 14th straight win, the Admirals (21-1 overall) also clinched Region 8-6A with a 7-1 mark.

“I’m proud of our guys and what they have accomplished up to this point, winning district with one week left to go,” GHS coach Jamie McMahon said.

Off and running

Brown got the scoring started in the second with a two-out, two-run double to center field. He ended up getting thrown out trying to stretch the play into a triple but the damage had been done.

“That was a big-time hit,” McMahon said. “There was no stopping him. He was coming to third. That was just a good hit. I didn’t care about him getting thrown out as long as they’re aggressive — and he was very aggressive coming to third.”

No. 10 Harrison Central (11-11, 3-5) capitalized on a pair of Admiral blunders two innings later to tie the game. Dillon Morgan scored from third on an error off the bat of Chaseton Lawton. A passed ball later allowed Brendan Hardy to slide safely across home plate, tying the game 2-2.

“The guys played hard the entire game,” HCHS coach Pat Olmi said. “That’s all you can ask for, for the kids to play hard the entire game and see what happens.”

Pitchers’ duel

Both Harris and Gulfport’s Patrick Nelms did a good job of keeping the opposing offenses at bay. Harris allowed nine hits and three walks and struck out five.

“Every time he goes to the mound we believe we have a chance to win,” Olmi said. “We believed we had a chance to win tonight, we just didn’t get the timely hit. That’s baseball.”

Nelms countered by holding HCHS to four hits, striking out six.

“He just cruised along and pitched exceptional,” McMahon said. “He threw the majority fastballs. I guess they were looking for the breaking ball. He didn’t throw many and he caught some guys freezing on two strikes.

“He just located his fastball in and then down and away. That helped him tonight.”

Looking ahead

Gulfport closes out its region slate next week with a home-and-home series against Hancock. HCHS plays Biloxi to decide seeding for the playoffs.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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