HATTIESBURG — Oak Grove is moving on.
Behind the hitting of Jack Sikes and the pitching of Landon James, the Warriors got past Pearl 8-4 in the decisive Game Three of the Third Round of the MHSAA Class 6A Baseball Playoffs Saturday night at Harry Breland Field.
Oak Grove (23-6) advances and will face Northwest Rankin for the Class 6A South State Championship. The series will begin on Tuesday at Northwest Rankin.
“Landon didn’t do much last night and tonight he came out and pitched really well. This team has been fighting all year,” said Oak Grove coach Chris McCardle. “Nobody gave us a chance to make it to the South State Championship, and we made it.”
Pearl jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning, highlighted by a Cole Copley two-run double.
Oak Grove cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the third on a two-run triple by Foster Mitchell.
Austin Green extended the Pearl lead to 4-2 on a single in the top of the fourth.
The Warriors tied the game at 4-4 on a two-run double from Sikes in the bottom of the fifth.
Oak Grove then scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the 8-4 lead, highlighted by a two-run single by Sikes. Ethan Easterling drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Warriors the lead.
“We’re fortunate to get timely hits, and two big ones by Sikes,” McCardle said. “That inning got started with two outs, so that was huge. Hats off to Pearl, they are a scrappy bunch with great kids and coaches. Great team chemistry with our kids, and I’m proud they made it to South State.”
Sikes had three hits to lead Oak Grove offensively. Peyton Peoples added two hits.
“I was trying to hit the first-pitch fastball and was able to get a good swing,” Sikes said. “They got on us early with us making errors, but we fought hard and got it done.”
Landon James (6-1) got the win on the mound in relief for Oak Grove, lasting three innings and giving up just two hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Austin Green took the loss on the mound for Pearl. The Pirates finished the season 20-15.
“We had a couple chances early to expand the lead and just didn’t get it done,” said Pearl coach Brian Jones. “Credit them, because they made plays when they had to and had timely hitting. No one expected us to make it this far, and I’m so proud of this kids of just how they battled all season.”