One out, or technically one pitch away.
That was how close West Jones came Tuesday night in Soso from a Class 5A South State series win and a trip to Pearl to defend its 2019 title.
For all the momentum West Jones had, Tuesday night favored a hot playoff team from Pascagoula.
With nobody on and one out away from elimination in the top of the seventh, Pascagoula plated three runs on a single, West Jones error, and three straight walks.
Leading 5-3 in the bottom frame, Pascagoula held the Mustangs scoreless with the bases loaded to stun West Jones 5-3 in Tuesday night’s deciding and exciting Game 3.
“Tip your hat to Pascagoula,” said West Jones head baseball coach Trey Sutton. “They came here and won a big game.
"It's tough, especially being one out needed [to win], but I'm proud of our kids and what they did this year. There were many people out there who didn't think we'd be here, so I'm proud of our kids for working hard all year to get here. They put us in this position [at South State]."
West Jones, who won the 5A title in football earlier in the school year, had hoped for a trip to Pearl and another title to bring home.
"Sometimes baseball just happens," said Sutton. "Like I told our guys, failure is a great teacher. It hurts, and I told them they need to let it hurt, especially our kids coming back. We told them that this couldn't define them, and at the end of the day, it's just a ball game."
Senior Cole Tolbert, who dominated Pascagoula in Game 1, didn’t stray far away from another gem of a performance on the night. Tolbert allowed just two earned runs on four hits and struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings.
One out away from possibly ending the game with a win, Tolbert had to exit the mound after reaching his limit of 120 pitches. Cade Mauldin replaced Tolbert on the mound.
“Mauldin has been great for us all year,” said Sutton. “That kid’s hurting right now [with how things ended], but if I had to do it all over again, I still would have gone with him.”
West Jones played catch-up for the majority of Tuesday night. Down 1-0 to Pascagoula in the second, Nick Green's one-out RBI double-tied the game at one apiece. Down a run once again in the fourth, Clayton Widener tripled to centerfield then scored on a passed ball to tie things for a second time.
Widener, along with Lawson Odom and Francisco Elvira, led the Mustangs with two hits apiece.
West Jones gained the lead in the fifth on an RBI bunt from senior Austin Moody.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, West Jones looked to tie the game once again with the bases loaded and two outs, but a pop-up back to Pascagoula's starting pitcher Brayden Scott send the Panthers in dog-pile formation for its celebration.
West Jones stranded eight on base, including the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh inning.
After the game, Sutton praised his senior class for all they’ve contributed to the program.
"These seniors were eight-graders when I got here," said Sutton. "But it hurts to see guys you see every day to be done. These seniors have contributed to what probably has been the best years this program has seen as far as wins and losses and winning a state championship. They were all part of that. I'm proud of what they've accomplished for us."