High School Sports

Ocean Springs–Gulfport highlights third-round slate

Ocean Springs catcher Britt McKay throws to first against Brandon. OSHS will face Gulfport in the third round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs.
Ocean Springs catcher Britt McKay throws to first against Brandon. OSHS will face Gulfport in the third round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs. ttisbell@sunherald.com file

The true contenders are beginning to show.

The MHSAA baseball playoffs open the third round Thursday with eight South Mississippi schools still in contention. Winners of the best-of-three series will advance to South State, one step away from Pearl and the State Championship round.

“When you get to this point in the year, down to the final four in the North and South, everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Ocean Springs coach Brian Rea said. “We’re pumped to be playing, whoever it is. At this point, we don’t care.”

The Greyhounds (18-14) drew a stiff test in the Class 6A playoffs with Gulfport (28-3).

“We’re familiar with Gulfport,” Rea said. “We know what kind of year they’ve had.”

The two schools played way back on March 10, with OSHS coming away with a 4-0 win. The decision has stood as Gulfport’s only loss against a Mississippi foe to date.

Though they may not have an ace who throws in the low 90s, or a current MLB Draft prospect, the Admirals have found success from being a well-rounded team without any one glaring weakness.

Gulfport boasts a .305 team average with 24 homers, 45 stolen bases and a 1.37 ERA.

“That’s why they’ve won 28 games,” Rea said of Gulfport’s balance. “To me that’s what stands out.”

As for Ocean Springs, ask any opposing coach about the Greyhounds and you typically get the same reply: Their arms.

The combination of Cooper Brune (5-2, 0.41 ERA) and Garrett Crochet (6-3, 1.64) is the envy of a lot of programs.

“We’re going to have to figure out some adjustments,” GHS coach Jamie McMahon said. “They’re a well-coached, scrappy bunch. They’re going to do the right things and are playing extremely well right now.”

Breaking barriers

The Admirals haven’t made it to South State during McMahon’s six years as skipper. Should Gulfport break through to the round of four, McMahon believes the success would do wonders for the program.

“I think it would mean a lot as far as the program goes to keep pushing through barriers that we haven’t been through,” he said. “Once you get through one barrier, it’s like, ‘OK, we can do that again’ and it allows you to go a bit further the next time you get in that spot.”

Gulfport hosts the series opener Thursday. OSHS will host Game 2 on Friday. Game 3, if needed, will be back at Gulfport. All three games are set for 7 p.m. starts.

PRC-LBHS

When asked to explain his team’s season, Pearl River Central coach Neil Walther broke it into thirds. The Blue Devils (22-10) were 7-2 out of the gate, then 8-1 in the middle nine games before finishing 3-6. Not exactly how he wanted to finish the regular season, but the Blue Devils seem to have turned things around in the playoffs. Pascagoula took PRC to three games in the first round, but the Blue Devils turned around and convincingly dispatched West Jones in Round 2.

Long Beach (21-9), meanwhile, has been impressive with two sweeps of Picayune and Brookhaven.

Getting an early lead against the Bearcats will be imperative to the Blue Devils’ success, Walther said.

“I think the first three innings of every game are very important,” he said. “There’s a tempo in baseball and if you’re down three in the fourth you might not be hitting and running or bunting. ... You can determine what the other team’s doing.”

More series

▪  (6A) Biloxi–Oak Grove

▪  (5A) West Harrison–Hattiesburg

▪  (4A) East Central–West Lauderdale

▪  (1A) Resurrection–Ethel

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

3rd round schedule

Matchup

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

6A: Biloxi–Oak Grove

OGHS, 7 p.m.

BHS, 7 p.m.

OGHS, 7 p.m.

6A: Ocean Springs–Gulfport

GHS, 7 p.m.

OSHS, 7 p.m.

GHS, 7 p.m.

5A: Pearl River Central–Long Beach

LBHS, 7 p.m.

PRC, 7 p.m.

LBHS, 7 p.m.

5A: West Harrison–Hattiesburg

WHHS, 7 p.m.

HHS, 7 p.m.

WHHS, 7 p.m.

4A: East Central–West Lauderdale

WLHS, 7 p.m.

ECHS, 7 p.m.

WLHS, 7 p.m.

1A: Resurrection–Ethel

RCS, 6:30 p.m.

EHS, 7 p.m.

RCS, 7 p.m.

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