Hattiesburg scored runs in chunks to beat West Harrison 12-2 in Game 1 of the 5A third-round playoff series Friday.
West Harrison led 2-1 after three innings, but Hattiesburg rallied for two huge innings. The Tigers scored four runs in the fifth inning and six more in the seventh, holding the Hurricanes scoreless over the final three innings.
Ole Miss commit Joe Gray nailed a two-run homer over the centerfield fence in the top of the fifth to give Hattiesburg a 4-2 lead with no outs. Kameron Wells drove a triple deep to right field, scoring two more runs to close out the fifth inning. Three other runs came on walks.
The Tigers piled on six runs in the top of the seventh inning, four coming off errors and two off RBI singles.
“The biggest thing we did was we gave them too many free bases,” West Harrison coach David Marsland said. “Walks and hit batters. They’re a big inning team. You saw it tonight. They’re good. We’ve got to regroup and find a way to stay in the strike zone. I think we swung the bats well enough tonight to stay in the game.
“We have to cut down the errors. We had mental errors all night long. Once the game got out of hand, I don’t have an answer for what happened there. Our guys are going to regroup and we are going to go out tomorrow and do the best we can.”
Junior Kasey Donaldson started on the mound for the Hurricanes. But after 4 2/3 innings, Marsland went to Brandon Parker.
While West Harrison struggled on the mound, Hattiesburg’s Dexter Jordan got better as the game went on. He gave up six hits, earning a complete-game win.
“I thought he pitched better the second half than he did the first,” Hattiesburg’s coach Joe Hartfield said. “And he seemed to get a little more focused as well. Of course he had a lead there, so that probably helped out as well. That was huge for him to pitch a complete game so that we can have all our pitching for game two and a possible Game 3.
“We’ve been a big-inning team the second half of the season, and that’s something we’ve focused on. To do that you’ve got to draw some walks. You’ve got to really watch the pitcher and see if he’s throwing strikes at the moment. We were able to get on base on a few walks, and then we hit the baseball when we needed to.”
Destin Holliman led the Tigers with two singles. Tate Parker led the Hurricanes with two doubles.
Hattiesburg will host Game 2 at 7 p.m. West Harrison hosts a Game 3 if necessary. West Harrison must win twice to reach the South State Finals.