Early runs gave Gulfport the advantage in Game 2, completing a 7-1 victory over Petal on Saturday.
The Admirals swept the best-of-3 6A second-round playoff series. Gulfport will play the winner of the Ocean Springs-Brandon series in the third round next week.
“Once we get going, and we got going early, that relaxes us a little bit,” Gulfport coach Jamie McMahon said. “(Friday) night, it took us a minute to get some runs, but today we got one early, so they kind of relaxed and we turned loose at the plate.”
It didn’t take long for the Gulfport bats to get started, using back-to-back home runs to jump up 3-0 before the Panthers could even come to the plate.
Dillon Brown took a 3-1 pitch to the center field wall, then Castor Lee smoked a two-run homer two pitches later. Gabe Lacy came up next and smacked a solo shot to give the Admirals the quick 3-0 in the first inning.
“We’ve done that at times,” McMahon said about the fast start. “We do swing the bat pretty good, and when we get going offensively, we can hit the ball out of the park one through eight.”
In the top of the second inning with one out, Brown fouled off four straight pitches – all with two strikes – to work a full count, and he eventually walked. Lee followed with a double down the left field line to score Brown for the Admiral’s fourth run.
After not scoring a run in the third inning, the Admirals started the fourth with two quick outs. But, Lee came up and hit his second double of the game to left field, and Lacy walked to put two on with two outs.
Johnson doubled during the next at-bat to score two runs, then Ethan Saucier walked. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third base, Patrick Nelms singled to left to score a run and it push the lead to 7-0, but Saucier was out at home to end the inning.
Lee led the Gulfport offense with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored. Nelms got the win.
“He’s one of our better hitters,” McMahon said. “That why I got him in the two-hole, to get him to the plate as many times as we can get him. He’s probably our three-hole hitter, but I get him to the plate as much as we can. He can just flat hit.”
Petal (15-13) didn’t have many opportunities in the game, but it get base runners on in all of the first four innings and five of the seven innings. In total, the Panthers only left four runners on base, though.
Double plays by the Gulfport defense in the first, third and sixth innings ended the frames, and with the bases loaded in the fourth inning after already scoring a run, a fielder’s choice ground out left two runners stranded.
“We hit some balls that they made some good plays on,” Petal head coach Larry Watkins said. “It’s just the way it is sometimes with this game. Some balls get through and some don’t, and we didn’t have enough to get through today.”
Taylor Gatwood picked up the RBI in the fourth, scoring Dylan Pylant.