High School Sports

Reason to celebrate: Gulfport up-ends Oak Grove

 Gulfport's Ethan Saucier (left) congratulates teammate Kevin Carter after he hit a sacrifice to score Saucier against Oak Grove, Saturday, March 26, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Gulfport's Ethan Saucier (left) congratulates teammate Kevin Carter after he hit a sacrifice to score Saucier against Oak Grove, Saturday, March 26, 2016.

BILOXI -- Holden McHugh retired seven of the eight batters he faced to lead Gulfport to a 6-5 upset of Class 6A's top-ranked Oak Grove at MGM Park on Saturday.

Oak Grove entered the game ranked 25th in the nation, according to MaxPreps.com.

"It's a big win for us," McHugh said. "We faced the top team in 6A play and we came out on top. We are going to celebrate tonight."

"Any time you can win against a good team like that, it's always good," said Admirals coach Jamie McMahon.

McHugh (2-0) entered the game with two outs in the top of the fifth and runners on second and third. Oak Grove (11-1) had just taken a 5-4 lead on Kris Jones' RBI single, the Warriors' second run of the inning. McHugh walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, but induced Daniel Moore to ground to short to end the inning.

The Admirals (10-4) wouldn't trail for long, however, taking advantage of wildness on the Oak Grove mound to strike for two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Travis McNett led the inning off with a solid double to left. An out later, Blake Johnson was hit and Castor Lee walked to load the bases. C.J. Keckler, batting eighth, and Ethan Saucier both walked to drive in the fifth and sixth Gulfport runs.

The inning could have been better for Gulfport, but Warriors reliever Zach Smith got a strike out for the second out and Jones tracked down Kevin Carter's fly ball to right center, making a great grab for the third out and ending the Admirals inning.

McHugh then did the rest, retiring the next six Warrior batters to preserve the win.

"(Jones' catch) could have been a momentum changer," McMahon said. "However, we did a good job in the next inning (the top of the sixth) holding them to maintain momentum."

McMahon said he had no doubt the Admirals' one-run lead would stand for the last two innings.

"We play a team of shortstops out there," he said. "When the pitchers come in and throw strikes, we can play defense."

McHugh said his goal was to throw strikes. "I know I have a good defense behind me," he said. "I know I have to throw stikeouts and let my defense take care of me."

Gulfport took an early 2-0 lead on a first-inning RBI-single by Southern Miss signee Alex Nelms and a grounder that scored a run when McNett beat out a possible double play at first. Gulfport extended its lead to 4-1 when Carter scored Saucier on a grounder to short.

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Oak Grove would come back with two runs each in the fourth and fifth innings. Jones and Ryan Blackburn took bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning to get the Warriors back to within one, 4-3. In the fifth, Southern Miss commit Drew Boyd led off with a triple and scored on Austin O'Flynn's double to tie the game at 4-4.

McNett started the game for Gulfport and went 4 and 2/3rds innings before giving way to McHugh.

Saucier led Gulfport at the plate with two hits, a walk and an RBI. Lee also had a perfect day at the plate for the Admirals with two hits and a hit-batsman. Nelms was 2-for-4 with a double.

Blackburn paced Oak Grove from his ninth-place spot with two singles, a walk and two RBIs. Boyd and Scott McMurrian also recorded two hits each for the Warriors and Jones drove in two runs on a walk and single.

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