High School Sports

South Jones sweeps Pascagoula in Class 5A second-round playoff action

 Pascagoula coach Richie Tillman.
CHRIS TODD/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD Pascagoula coach Richie Tillman.

PASCAGOULA -- South Jones pitcher Max Sharp needed less than 50 pitches to end Pascagoula's season. South Jones prevailed 12-0 on Saturday, sweeping the Panthers in their 5A second-round playoff series.

The Braves will face the winner of the Long Beach and Hattiesburg series in the third round next week.

Sharp faced only three batters over the minimum in the six-inning 10-rule game, allowing just two base hits -- singles by Griffin Sublett and Nick McCarty. He was able to get Panther batters to swing early in the strike count, allowing his defense to make plays behind him.

"I was throwing to them to hit it," said Sharp, who got the shutout with 45 pitches. "That's all I do. I pitch to contact."

Sharp struck out only two Pascagoula batters in the game, but didn't walk or hit any batters. McCarty also reached on an error for Pascagoula's third base runner.

All three Pascagoula base runners reached second, but the Panthers (15-15) couldn't get more than one run on base in any inning.

"He was the highlight of the game," said Braves coach Jordan Rogers.

The first four innings started as a pitching duel between Sharp and Panthers pitcher Austin Beech. After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, Beech settled down and allowed only two base runners in the second, third, and fourth innings, one reaching on an error.

In the fifth, though, a couple of leadoff infield singles -- Ryne Sasser off Beech and Shane Barnes to short -- provided the Braves with an opening. The Braves would exploit the opening, taking advantage of the errors, and four Panther errors in the inning, to push six runs across the plate to take a 7-0 lead.

Ricky Boleware had the big hit in the inning, driving in two runs with a bases-loaded single.

"We put a lot of pressure on them on offense," Rogers said. "We kept the pressure on them and we finally broke through."

The Braves continued their offensive explosion in the sixth, pushing five runs across to end the game early. Again Pascagoula helped out the cause with three walks and two key two-out errors that allowed three of the five runs to cross the plate.

"We didn't do the things we did during our hot streak: playing defense and throwing strikes," said Panthers coach Richie Tillman. "We didn't make the plays we needed and we didn't have command of the strike zone. What happened yesterday carried on through today. We didn't get it done today."

The Braves' formular was to throw strikes, play good defense, and get timely hitting.

"I'm just glad we are practicing Monday," Rogers said. "We are taking it one day at a time and getting ready to play Friday."

Despite getting swept, Tillman was happy with the way his team came back after starting the season 3-10.

"They fought very hard to get back on track," Tillman said. "It's all about peaking and I thought we were peaking at the right time. Unfortunately we didn't play well this series. I'm hoping the players coming back are hurting the way I do right now and they want to do something about that pain next year."

Steven Sasser led the Braves at the plate going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Boleware drove in three runs and Tyler Ducksworth had two RBIs.