Vancleave was the first team from the “Southern Six” to advance to the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs, after the Bulldogs beat Long Beach on Saturday.
Monday night, Pearl River Central moved on as well after knocking off George County.
After falling to the visiting Bearcats last week 4-1 to open the best-of-three first round series, Vancleave went on the road to beat LBHS 10-6 to even the match-up at 1-1 Friday night. The Bulldogs returned home to “The Landing” the next day and completed the comeback with a 5-1 win to close out the series.
In Saturday’s series finale, the Bearcats took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning as Ashton Schepens zoomed home on an inside-the-park home run.
Vancleave tied it up at 1-1 when Robert Tinson scored on a ground ball from Asher Henley that the Bearcats misplayed.
A four-run fifth frame by the Bulldogs was the deciding factor on the day. Henley kicked the winning rally off with a run-scoring single, and Hunter Parker followed with an RBI-double to make it 3-1. Henley and Parker both then came around to score on another LBHS error resulting in the final count.
Sophomore Hunter Parker picked up the win with a complete game performance scattering just three Bearcat hits.
Hunter Blackwell tallied a double for the Bearcats. W.P. Bermudez took the loss when he started the game and pitched into the fateful fifth but couldn’t get out of the inning.
In Friday’s second game, VHS banged out 12 hits in the winning effort. Layton Eder, Henley, Tinson and Martin Shaw each collected two hits apiece for VHS, while Tyler West and Eder each drove in a pair of runs each.
Levi Tapp got the win.
Vancleave travels to South Jones Tuesday night to open the second round of playoff action.
Meanwhile, in Carriere Monday night, home-standing PRC eliminated GCHS for the second consecutive season in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Blue Devils trailed 5-2 going into the bottom of the sixth stanza but head coach Neil Walther’s squad then erupted for seven runs to pull out the win and move on.
Caleb Dyes had two hits, including a solo home run for PRC, while Conner Dyess added a two-run single to the winning attack. Kyan Schlottman had two hits, including a run-scoring double, while Wes Gardner had a double among his pair of hits as well. Jacob Johnson and Isiais Ryan also drove in runs.
Brody Howell tallied two doubles and an RBI for GCHS and Taite Davis added a two-run single. Jacob Eubanks had two hits, including a run-scoring double, and Ben Davis added two hits also while Case Crawley also drove in a run.
Caleb Dyess started and threw six stanzas to pick up the win for PRC, and Ryan finished up the seventh. Howell started and tossed the first four frames for GCHS, and Gage Reeves took the loss in relief of Howell.
The Rebels forced the third and deciding game of the series with an exciting 8-7 win in Lucedale Friday night as GCHS scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to overcome a late 7-6 deficit.
Klay Fryfogle and Reeves each collected a game-high four hits in the win to pace the Rebels at the plate, and Fryfogle had a pair of doubles in his hit total and he also drove in two runs while one of Reeves’ hits was a run-scoring double. Howell added a run-scoring double and Tanner Odom drove in a run also.
Both Johnson and Caleb Dyess drove in three runs apiece for PRC, and Johnson had a team-high two hits.
Reliever Bubba Herrington earned the win for GCHS in relief of starter Andrew Neilsen, while Johnson went the distance and took the loss for PRC.
Pearl River Central has a quick turnaround to begin the second round traveling to West Jones Tuesday night.
The loss marked the third straight season that George County has been eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs. The Rebels played for the state championship in 2015, 2016 and 2018 but now haven’t made it past the opening round in four years.