High School Sports

Red hot George County sweeps Brandon, clinches battle with Petal in South State

Walker Robbins helped George County sweep Brandon and reach the 6A South State championship series.
Walker Robbins helped George County sweep Brandon and reach the 6A South State championship series.

LUCEDALE - George County is playing its best baseball at just the right time.

The Rebels topped Brandon 4-1 on Saturday to earn a two-game sweep in the Class 6A South State semifinals. They advance to face Petal in the South State finals.

"Like I said a few weeks ago, this team gets hot. Petal is hot. I think we're hot," George County coach Brandon Davis said. "I think it's going to be a good match up in South State."

George County (19-7) is looking to get back to Trustmark Park in Pearl after falling to Oxford in the Class 5A title series there a year ago.

The Rebels again relied on a strong pitching staff to shut down the opponent after winning 3-2 at Brandon Friday night. The Rebels have outscored the competition 26-3 through four playoff games.

Freshman right-hander Trevor McDonald made the start and limited Brandon to one run on four hits through four innings to get the win after loading the bases with none out in the top of the first.

McDonald (4-1) was replaced by senior right-hander Kyle Whittington, who held Brandon scoreless over the final three innings.

"With our pitching staff, we always think if we get past the first inning, they're lights out from there," senior center fielder Bryce Solomon said. "Trevor came in and gave up one run with the bases loaded and no outs. What else can you ask more?"

Whittington, who has a minuscule ERA of 0.18, earned the save by allowing just one hit in the final three innings, striking out one and walking none.

"Kyle Whittington did what he's done all year," Davis said.

Brandon (25-8) loaded the bases in the first inning with singles by Nathan Babb and J.T. Ginn and a walk to Kyle Singleton. McDonald allowed Babb to score from third on a wild pitch. The young hurler recovered, forcing Jack Bishop to pop out and striking out Matt McCurley and Brian Joyner to end the threat.

"He seems to put himself in those situations quite often," Davis said. "Last week against Pearl, he had men on second and third in the first inning and second and third in second inning with nobody out both times. He's pitching like most freshmen do. To only give up one run was really impressive."

George County answered in the bottom of the first with Bryson Solomon coming through with a two-out single to bring home Brycen Scott and tie the game at 1-1 after two innings.

The Rebels put men on base in the second and third innings, but didn't gain the lead until the fourth inning when McDonald helped himself out with an RBI double to left to bring home Whittington from second base.

George County pushed its lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning. Solomon came up with a sacrifice fly RBI and pinch runner Ashton Schultz raced home from second when Babb, the Brandon center fielder, mishandled a two-out single off the bat of Logan Tanner.

That lead proved more than enough for Whittington to preserve.

The only hit that Whittington allowed was a sixth-inning fly ball that right fielder that Jathan Staton lost track of in the sun.

Whittington used his curve ball to keep the Bulldogs at bay.

"I was hitting my spots with it and getting strikes on the first pitch," he said.

The Class 6A South State series will be rematch of the same round of the playoffs in 2011 when Petal swept the Rebels.

"Everybody didn't really think we had much coming back (from the 2015 team)," Whittington said. "We showed everybody we can do it."

Staton, Walker Robbins and Connor Dunlap each had a pair of hits for the Rebels in a 10-hit effort.

Senior right-hander Tyler Trussell took the loss for Brandon, allowing one earned run on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.