By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
It's been a pretty good season for baseball teams that Picayune's Justin Pigott used to play for.
And the best may just be yet to come.
Pigott paced the Maroon Tide to a pair o appearances in the state championship during his prep days, including leading Picayune to the 2002 state title.
This season, the Maroon Tide advanced all the way to the Class 5A South state finals for just the second time in the past decade, before falling in three games to defending state champion Pascagoula.
After his prep playing days were done, Pigott moved on to Mississippi State where he became one of the aces of the Bulldog squad. He was on the mound six years ago for the Bulldogs when they made their last appearance in Omaha at the College World Series.
The Bulldogs open CWS play today at 3 against Oregon State.
Just like the last time they made their way to Omaha, players from South Mississippi are vital to MSU. Six current Bulldogs played their high school baseball on the Coast with five of those playing major roles on this year's team that sits at 48-18 headed into this weekend's start of the College World Series.
Mississippi State plays Oregon State at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the first game of the World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
After taking care of business in the Starkville Regional by topping Central Arkansas to advance, Mississippi State finished its sweep at Virginia on Monday in the Super Regional.
Harrison Central product Wes Rea, a power-hitting first baseman, was on the other end of the throw from third baseman Alex Detz for the final out in the rain-delayed 6-5 win over Virginia. Gulfport native Jonathan Holder, State's All-American closer, was at the center of the celebratory dog pile after earning the save.
Joining Rea and Holder as Coast natives on the MSU baseball team include:
n Designated hitter/first baseman Trey Porter, a senior, played baseball at East Central High School in Hurley and was a junior college All-American during his two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He is batting .250 this season.
n Sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Jacob Lindgren is a key piece of the MSU starting rotation after a stellar career at St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis. He is 4-3 with a 4.18 ERA this year.
n Myles Gentry of Gulfport has made a big impact on the Bulldogs' bullpen as a freshman relief pitcher. He has thrown in 23 games this season with a 3.69 ERA.
n Freshman outfielder Cody Brown is sitting out this year with redshirt after strong career at Biloxi High School, where he was a four-year starter.
Rea and Holder, both sophomores, have posted big seasons for the Bulldogs.
Holder was tabbed as first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, joining junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe as the two Bulldogs with first-team honors.
Holder has 18 saves with a 1.31 ERA in 30 games pitched.
The hulking Rea, who stands 6-foot-5, 272 pounds, is second on the team with seven home runs to go with 37 RBIs and a .288 batting average.
Cohen's focus on recruiting the Coast is apparent through the numbers. Of the dozen players from Mississippi on the team, half of those played their ball on the Coast.