Pitcher Brett Hughes hurled Harrison Central to a sweep of St. Martin in the Class 6A state baseball playoffs Saturday night.
Hughes tossed a three-hitter and the Red Rebels pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth to defeat the Yellow Jackets 2-1, setting up a showdown with George County in the next rung of the playoffs next week.
“We wanted to get it done tonight,’’ Hughes said. “It (the double play) was huge (in the first inning). A lot of times it takes me some time to get loose.
“I wanted to let them hit, let them get themselves out, and me trusting my defense to make the plays. If we bring the bats and play defense, I don’t think anybody can beat us.’’
Harrison Central defeated St. Martin 4-2 in Game 1 of the series on Friday night.
The Red Rebels improved to 18-9 while St. Martin finished its season at 17-9.
Harrison Central jumped to a 1-0 lead on Chase Jones’ RBI groundout in the first but St. Martin tied the game at 1 in the second on Dane Dutil’s RBI groundout.
In the fifth, Kyle Howell led off with a single to left. Brendon McCauley bunted him to second. Then Jayson Delmas, who was pinch-running for Howell, raced home on a throwing error.
Hughes fanned five batters. He started the game by walking Leo Harris and hitting Leif Moore with a pitch. But he induced Brennan Study to ground into a double play to stop a potential rally.
Harris was the hard-luck losing pitcher for St. Martin, also throwing a 3-hitter with nine strikeouts.
Harrison Central coach Neil Frederic likes what he saw from his team this weekend, and the entire season. On Friday night, Brendan Hardy was the winning pitcher.
“We had a good outing from Hardy (Friday), one of his best outings,’’ Frederic said. “Brett Hughes is one of those guys who is going to go out there and compete. He started out with two free passes, and we left him in, and he got it done. They don’t doubt him when he is on the mound, they know he will “I think these kids bought in from the very beginning (of the season). We came in as a staff, and they decided to do what they needed to do to make the next step. They bought into our philosophy and system.’’
“We are moving on (in the playoffs), which is good.’’
Next week’s opponent George County swept Brandon in its best-of-3 series. HCHS and George County have not played this season.