(228Sports Director Curtis Rockwell and Hunter Dawkins of the Gazebo Gazette combined to produce this report)
The playoff positioning in Region 7-5A is complete after action on Monday night.
Picayune had already secured the top spot in the league standings coming into this week, and West Harrison was already eliminated for postseason possibilities, so it came down to who would finish as the second and third seed between Pearl River Central in the region race and who which would have home-field advantage when the Class 5A playoffs started next week.
The Bearcats did their part to keep their hopes for the second spot alive, knocking off visiting West Harrison 7-4 but just an hour or so later PRC clinched the second seed with a 5-4 win over Picayune in extra innings.
The Blue Devils got a solo home run from Caleb Dyess in the win and he also had a single, while B.J. Bellelo added two hits as well to the winning attack including a run-scoring double. Sam Tuminello also drove in a run for PRC.
Isaias Ryan picked up the pitching win in relief of Dyess in the game that went eight innings.
Jamie Lumpkin had a run-scoring double for the Maroon Tide, and Brady Robertson had a pair of hits and drove in a run as well. Brunson Stockstill also had two hits in the game, and Parker Hilton had an RBI.
Picayune and Long Beach were set to make up their region game that was rained out late last week on Friday if needed, but the PRC win made that game nonapplicable as PRC moved to 5-4 in the region race and have the tie-breaker over the Bearcats.
In the renewal of the Exit-28 rivalry between Long Beach and West Harrison High School Monday night at Mike Rutledge Stadium, the Bearcats pulled out a close 7-4 win on Senior Night over the Hurricanes and secured the third seed in Region 7-5A.
The Long Beach Bearcats, who finished 4-4 in league play, didn’t make it easy by allowing four runs in the top of the second inning from the West Harrison Hurricanes and a 4-2 lead, but scoring five runs in the next four innings and southpaw Landon VanCourt not allowing any runs for this time frame helped earn the needed victory.
“I thought our offense did really well; situationally, and I thought VanCourt and Schepens did really well coming out and finishing the game for us,” said Long Beach Head Baseball Coach Garrett LaRosa. “West Harrison is as scrappy as they come. They are really well coached, have had some things not go their way, but you can never count them out.”
Long Beach Senior Ashton Schepens did everything, including reaching base three times, scoring once, knocking in a run (RBI), stealing a base, and closing the game for a save with two strikeouts.
The Bearcats also had multiple hits from Centerfielder Wesley Watson and Second Baseman Jake Thomas along with an RBI from both. Jake and Luke Thomas finished with extra-base hits while Shortstop WB Bermudez stole two bases.
Despite Long Beach Starter Eli Hodges not lasting very long, VanCourt stepped in and secured the victory by allowing zero hits or runs in just over four innings along with collecting four strikeouts.
Even though the ‘Canes who ended region play at 3-6, finished with only five hits, their first three batters reached base multiple times as Elijah Carriere had three walks, James Seal hit a single for two RBIs and was hit-by-pitch, and Hunter Ross knocked in a single and was walked.
Hurricanes senior Donny Davis threw a complete game with three strikeouts.
Long Beach will host Biloxi Thursday night for the last regular season home game of 2023 then will travel to Vancleave Tuesday to open the Class 5A state playoffs.