D'IBERVILLE -- Ocean Springs broke out of its recent funk in a big way Friday, riding a nine-run fourth inning to a 15-4 five-inning victory at D'Iberville.
The win, coupled with St. Martin's loss to George County, clinched a playoff berth for the Greyhounds (12-8, 3-5 7-6A).
"That's the kind of team you saw tonight that we've expected to have all year. Just for whatever reason, it hasn't happened up to this point," Ocean Springs coach Brian Rea said. "This is the time of year where we all want to see our teams start to do that.
"I'm seeing glimpses of it and with one week left in the regular season, that's a good place to be."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
Friday's win was a big boost for a Greyhounds team that has high expectations but had lost 3 of 4 entering the night.
"We have pitched and played good defense all year," Rea said. "That hasn't been an issue. If we add sticks to it, we could go somewhere."
There were plenty of offensive standouts in the game, but one Greyhound who caught Rea's attention was sophomore Gavin Beaugez. The designated hitter earned his first varsity start Friday at designated hitter and rewarded his coach with a 2-for-4 showing with a game-high six RBIs.
"He has been having good swings in JV games," Rea said. "We talk about rewarding good play around here and so we plugged him in."
D'Iberville center fielder Travis Bender scored the game's first run in the bottom of the first on an errant throw off a comebacker from right fielder Andrew Bird.
Beaugez tied the game on a groundout in the top of the second, but D'Iberville edged back ahead when left fielder Jay Deshong scored on a wild pickoff throw.
Bird scored on a wild pitch in the third to push D'Iberville ahead 3-1.
Then the wheels fell off for D'Iberville as the Greyhounds plated nine runs on seven hits, two walks and two hit batters to pull ahead 10-3. The big blow of the inning was a three-run double off the right field wall delivered by Drew Windham. Cooper Brune and Beaugez each had two-run singles in the frame.
Bird drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth to get the Warriors' fourth run, but the Greyhounds plated five more runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach. The decisive blow was a three-run double to left-center by Bailey Keeton.
"You have to come to the park every day and be ready to play. The first four innings, we were winning the ball game, but you have to finish the game and play all 21 outs," D'Iberville coach Cragin Gilbert said. "They just got really hot bats tonight - it was like a firestorm tonight."
Catcher Tate Pepper finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Taylor Reeves had a team-high three hits. Starter Brent Culberson earned the win, allowing three runs (one earned) in three innings.
Bender led DHS with three hits.
Big series ahead
Despite the loss, D'Iberville (11-6, 7-1) still remains in the driver's seat in 7-6A with a big series looming next week against George County.
"It hurts," D'Iberville coach Cragin Gilbert said. "We wanted to go undefeated in district, but we still control our own destiny."