An unusual night that started at South Jones and ended on the baseball field of Jones College led to what could be considered an upset when Pascagoula defeated South Jones 6-1 in the opening game of first-round playoff action Thursday night.
“This was the first time in my experience as a player or coach that we had to do something like this,” said South Jones head coach Jordan Rogers about moving fields during a game. “I thought it might play in our favor, but it didn’t. Hats off to Pascagoula. They are a storied program just like us. They are always knotting up with us or someone like us in the playoffs. So definitely hats off to their guys. They took advantage of opportunities and we didn’t.”
Things started off rocky for South Jones as Pascagoula plated three runs in the top of the first. A hit-by-pitch and two singles from the Panthers loaded the bases. A groundout into a fielder’s choice gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead. An error gave Pascagoula another chance to push a runner across home, then a single from Rhodes Randle gave Pascagoula their third run of the inning before South Jones stopped the bleeding with the final out.
South Jones could not respond in the bottom of the first despite two singles from Cody Walters and Blaine Causey.
A pair of RBI singles in the top of the second pushed Pascagoula’s lead to 5-0 as Sean Smith and Cam Finn each drove in the runs.
South Jones opted to pull freshman pitcher Cole Richardson in the inning to bring in senior Reeves Crowder. Richardson finished his night with two strikeouts on 44 pitches while giving up five hits and five runs through 1 2-3 innings.
Crowder, who finished out the night for the Braves, finished his night with 5 1-3 innings pitched. The senior struck out six while giving up three hits and one run.
“The one thing we want our pitchers to do when they come in is to give us a chance, and he did that. He gave us a chance,” said Rogers about Crowder. “Cole came out and was shaky. It is what it is, though. If you play baseball long enough, those outings happen. Reeves came in and he pretty much held them at bay. We had some opportunities, we just didn’t seize those opportunities when we had the chance to.”
The top of the third featured what would soon start roughly an hour delay as the field lights lost power. After several minutes of attempts to get the lights back on, the game was moved to Jones College where things were able to finish up.
An RBI double in the bottom of the fourth from junior Seth Sharp brought in junior Matt Smith to give the Braves their first and only run of the evening. Pascagoula quickly answered back in the top of the fifth with a solo shot to center field from Houston Johnson to give the Panthers a 6-1 lead and ultimately the win.
Rogers pointed to things that South Jones can fix to take game two Friday and the series.
“It is simple. When we get runners at second and third with less than two outs, we have to capitalize on it. That is what it boils down to. That was the difference in the game. When they [Pascagoula] got in those scenarios, they capitalized. They found ways to get those runs across and we didn’t.”
Rogers continued, “We are going to get ready, roll up our sleeves, and get after them tomorrow.”
South Jones is scheduled to play at Pascagoula for game two Friday at 7 p.m. with a potential game three home game Saturday at 1 p.m.