High School Sports

Gulfport, Keckler ruin St. Martin's no-hit bid

C.J. Keckler
C.J. Keckler

BILOXI -- Good Friday featured one of the more unique no-hit bids of the season in South Mississippi.

Despite trailing by two runs, St. Martin sophomore Jacob Gilliland took a no-no into the final frame against Gulfport at MGM Park.

Admirals catcher C.J. Keckler promptly ended the suspense, blasting a solo homer over the 325-foot marker in left field.

Gulfport later pushed another run across the plate and eventually held on for a 4-3 victory.

"We're playing better. We're still giving too many runs away. We have to get better at the plate consistently," Gulfport coach Jamie McMahon said. "We faced two really good arms this week (in Gilliland and George County's Walker Robbins) and were fortunate enough to pick up some wins.

"We did what we have to do, but we have to get a little better on the offensive side."

Gilliland's no-hit bid was rather unique because the Admirals (9-4, 2-2 in Region 8-6A) actually plated two runs in the first on a walk, hit batter and an error, and, with the exception of the fourth inning, had at least one base runner every frame.

"We played well, we just made too many errors and that's what cost us the game," St. Martin coach Chris Blake said. "We talk about it all the time. That has basically been our nemesis the entire year. A couple of errors here and there at the beginning of the ball game, we get behind and it seems like every time we make errors they score runs off of them. We always have to fight back to make it a game or take the lead."

After Gulfport's Dillon Brown and Kevin Carter scored in the first inning, St. Martin (4-11, 0-4 in 7-6A) cut the Admirals' lead in half on a Dylan Mitchell sacrifice fly in the fourth that scored Chance Groue.

St. Martin threatened again with two runners on and one out in the fifth, but McMahon turned to Castor Lee in relief of Gage Clark. Lee rewarded his coach by inducing a pop out to the shortstop and a ground out to avoid disaster and set up the seventh inning.

With St. Martin having committed three errors in the first six innings, Gilliland, who walked three and hit a batter, admittedly was unaware of his no-hitter until he walked to the mound in the final frame.

"I looked up and realized we had five hits and they had zero," Gilliland said. "Then (Keckler) just teed off on it."

"He left it a little up and in so I took a good swing," said Keckler, who plays travel ball with Gilliland. "I thought for sure it was going out off the bat so about half way down the line I started jogging."

The solo shot was Keckler's first of his prep career. The junior catcher, who entered the game hitting .167 with two doubles, believes the homer could help build confidence moving forward.

"Especially at a park like this. It feels really good," he said. "If I can put it out here, I can put it out anywhere."

Carter's RBI-triple scored Ethan Saucier for what proved to be the game-winning run.

The Yellow Jackets made it interesting in the bottom of the frame, scoring Nick Vollmuth on an infield single and then Leif Moore on a bunt. Lee got a final fly ball to shallow right field to preserve the win and his first save of the season.

Clark improved to 2-1 on the season. Gilliland (1-3) struck out four in the loss.

"He looked great. He's consistently 86-87 with a pretty decent curve ball and very good off speed," Blake said of Gilliland. "That's typical for him. All season, every time he steps foot on the mound those are the kind of results we get out of him.

If we can put it together as a team, nobody could beat him."

Isaac Williams had a game-high three hits. Moore had two.

Hosting LB, OG

Both teams will have a busy weekend.

St. Martin hosts Long Beach at 1 p.m. Saturday, while Gulfport will return to the Biloxi Shuckers' home to play Oak Grove (10-0, 3-0).

McMahon is looking forward to Saturday's test as the Warriors are considered one of the top teams nationally, ranked No. 21 overall by MaxPreps.com.

One of the Warriors' top players, left-hander Drew Boyd, is a Southern Miss commitment. He is 3-1 on the year with a 1.40 ERA. In 20 innings, the junior has struck out 34 against just four walks. He's also hitting .310 with 10 RBIs and three extra-base hits in 29 at-bats.

"Just to see them and get some other guys on the mound to see what they can do," McMahon said. "We take each game -- it's important. I just want to see where we're at and see where they're at to get an idea of what we need to do."

Ocean Springs will play Oak Grove at 4 p.m. at MGM Park, followed by Bay-West Harrison at 7 p.m. The Tigers-Hurricanes tilt has been rescheduled several times due to rain.