MHSAA 6A South Playoffs roundup: Northwest Rankin first to clinch ticket to third round

Last week’s nasty weather still has the MHSAA 6A South Playoffs schedule behind by a couple of days, but the matchups for the third round are starting to come into focus. Here’s a look at where we stand headed into the next week.

Already moving on

6A North

Madison Central (28-1)

First Round: Bye
Second Round: Swept South Panola (W 26-5, W 11-0)

Series recap: There’s not much left to say about the top-ranked Jaguars after they beat the absolute snot out of South Panola in the second round.

The Jaguars have been in cruise control since a loss to Brandon last month, and they were again Thursday when they exploded for 26 runs in their playoff opener. Ross Highfill led the way at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a double and six RBIs. Braden Montgomery drew the start and gave up a couple of runs in four innings of work to pick up the win.

It was more of the same in Game Two, with the Jags pounding out nine hits in five innings and walking away with an 11-0 win. Highfill led the way at the plate again with a three-run homer. Ranard Grace got the win on the hill, scattering a hit and three walks over four innings with three strikeouts.

Starkville (14-13)

First Round: Swept Hernando (W 4-3, W 1-0)
Second Round: Swept Lewisburg (W 2-1, W 3-2)

Series recap: It’s not hyperbole to say Starkville beating Lewisburg was probably the biggest upset in the state at any level over the weekend. But it was no fluke.

The Yellowjackets won Game One 2-1 behind a stellar pitching performance from Banks Perry, who got the win after pitching a complete game and giving up six hits and one walk with four strikeouts. The only run Perry gave up was unearned.

Starkville got one run on a passed ball and another on Mason Thurlow’s two-out single that brought home Hayes Davis.

In Friday night’s series-clinching 3-2 win, Davis and Ethan Pulliam provided back-to-back RBI singles in the first inning and Pulliam got an RBI sacrifice fly in the second to give Starkville the early 3-0 lead.

Pulliam also started on the mound and kept the Patriots at bay until they scratched a run across in the fourth inning. Lewisburg scored one run and had the winning run on base in the seventh, but Jackson Owen came on in relief and struck out Gray Bane and Chett McDaniel back-to-back to end the game and the series.

Tupelo (25-7)

First Round: Swept Warren Central (W 13-1, W 11-1)
Second Round: Swept Oxford (W 5-2, W 3-2)

Series recap: The revelation that Oxford was knocked out of the playoffs in the second round may turn some heads, but it won’t surprise anyone who has been following Tupelo’s recent success.

The Golden Wave scored enough runs to take advantage of two quality pitching performances from Hunter Elliott and Mason Morris, who faced really tough matchups against Oxford’s Dixon Webb and Hays Roth.

In Game One, Elliott went six innings without giving up an earned run, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out 11 Chargers. He helped his own cause with an RBI, and Morris and Easton Hood also drove in runs. McClain Ray got the final three outs for the save.

Morris wasn’t as overpowering in Game Two, but he pitched well enough to win, going the distance and allowing two earned runs on eight hits and three walks and eight strikeouts. Morris also had an RBI in the game, as did Bo Jaggers and Lake Reed.

DeSoto Central (22-9)

First Round: Swept Clinton (W 19-7, W 6-4)
Second Round: Swept Germantown (W 12-9, W 5-0)

Series recap: Germantown (23-5) had the best record of any team eliminated this weekend. They ran into a red-hot DeSoto Central team that pounded out 17 hits in two games.

Colton Gardner and Hampton Ross each drove in three runs for Germantown in the series-opener Thursday night, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a late surge in a 12-9 DeSoto Central win.

The Jaguars came back with a four-run seventh inning — highlighted by Kristian Sprawling’s two-run homer — to steal Game One on the road.

Game Two starter Bradley Loftin overpowered the Germantown lineup in a dominant 5-0 win. Loftin worked a complete game shutout and allowed just three hits and a walk, striking out 12 Germantown hitters.

6A South

Northwest Rankin (23-6)

First Round: Bye
Second Round: Swept West Harrison (W 12-1, W 5-0)

Series recap: As the champs of Region 6-6A, the Cougars had a bye in the first round, so they played a two-game set with 5A South front-runner West Jones, and won both of them.

They didn’t miss a beat in their second-round series sweep of West Harrison, either.

Luke Lycette and Brice Ainsworth each drove in three runs in a 12-1 rout in the series opener. Nick Monistere struck out 10 batters and gave up one run on one hit and four walks in five innings to get the win.

Blake Summerlin threw a complete-game no-hitter in Game Two at West Harrison. He struck out 14 and issued to just two walks in seven innings. The top half of the lineup provided most of the offense, with Lycette, Minstere, Summerlin and Evan Rogers all driving in runs.


Still undecided

Gulfport (11-14) vs. Pearl (17-12)
(Gulfport leads series, 1-0)

Game 1: Gulfport 2, Pearl 0
Game 2: 6:30 p.m. Monday at Pearl
Game 3 (if necessary): TBA Tuesday at Gulfport

Series recap: Gulfport surged ahead with two runs in the sixth inning of the series-opener Saturday afternoon on the coast and held on for a 2-0 win.

Ethan Surowiec and Jacob Snell provided back-to-back solo home runs, which saved a stellar outing from Gulfport starter Eli Walker, who got the complete-game win after holding the Pirates to three hits and striking out seven hitters without walking anyone.

Oak Grove vs. Brandon
(Series tied 1-1)

Game 1: Oak Grove 8, Brandon 7
Game 2: Brandon 16, Oak Grove 6
Game 3: 7 p.m. Monday at Brandon

Series recap: These two teams played one helluva game in the series opener Friday night at Oak Grove. 

The Warriors scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings. Brandon scored a run in the top of the 11th, but Oak Grove responded with back-to-back RBI singles from Blake Bullock and Peyton Peoples to win 8-7.

The eventual winner of the series will face the winner of the D’Iberville-Harrison Central series, which brings us to…

Harrison Central (16-13) vs. D’Iberville (17-9)

Game One: D’Iberville 8, Harrison Central 2
Game Two: Harrison Central 12, D’Iberville 11
Game Three: 7 p.m. Monday at D’Iberville

Series recap: It’s always fun when two coast teams square off this deep into the playoffs, and the D’Iberville-Harrison Central series has been just that.

D’Iberville’s Logan Forsythe went 2-for-4 with a homer and two walks, drove in four runs and scored three more in an 8-2 win in game one. Blake Gollott got the win on the mound by holding the Red Rebels to two runs on a couple of hits and six walks with eight strikeouts.

Harrison Central bounced back in Game Two Saturday night by plating two runs in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 12-11 win and force a decisive Game Three. The Red Rebels got a single and two walks to start the inning, and scored both the tying run and the game winner on a D’Iberville throwing error. Harrison Central’s Jeremiah Farmer doubled and drove in four runs.

Game three in the series is set for Monday night.

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