By Creg Stephenson
The Mississippi Press
The 2013 high school baseball season is barely a week old, but Picayune already has a win over the defending 5A state champions.
The Maroon Tide scratched out two third-inning runs and senior pitcher Jacob Taylor made them stand in a 2-1 victory at Ingalls Field. Picayune (1-3) had been outscored 13-0 in its three previous games, losses to Poplarville, Hancock and Petal.
“That’s huge for us, especially since we hadn’t scored a run in 19 innings this year,” Picayune coach Cayne Stockstill said. “To get another good pitching effort like that and finally get some runs and get ahead, that was big against a championship ball club like Pascagoula.”
Taylor went the distance, striking out three and allowing only two hits. Pascagoula (1-2) left runners on third base in the first, third and sixth innings.
The senior right-hander used his defense to get out of the first two innings, but bore down to escape the latter jam. After Pascagoula put a runner on third with one out, Taylor struck out Justin Stanford and Stacey Warren — the Panthers’ 5- and 6-hole hitters.
“We were trying to get ahead early and use (Taylor’s) out pitches, and we were able to do that for the most part,” Stockstill said. “His velocity was up, but it was basically about not putting runners on and throwing strikes.”
Taylor also helped himself at the plate, driving home Picayune’s second run with a triple in the third inning. Both of the Maroon Tide’s runs came with two outs after Pascagoula threw away a potential double-play ball.
Courtesy runner Gary Van Buren scored Picayune’s first run on the error, with Hayden Falls reaching first. Falls scored when Taylor lined the first pitch he saw off the wall in left-center.
Pascagoula picked up one run in its half of the inning, when Slater McCarty walked and scored on an error. But poor base-running cost the Panthers the tying run, when Andrew Crane was tagged out at third on an infield grounder before Adam Smith could cross home plate.
Pascagoula’s lone hits came on McCarty’s double to lead off the bottom of the first and Smith’s infield single — kept out of center field by a diving Picayune second baseman Mark Wood — in the third. Taylor walked just one and retired the last six batters he faced.
“We missed a few opportunities, but their pitcher did a really good job,” Pascagoula coach Richie Tillman said. “He kept us off-balance and we didn’t put the ball in play very well. We made a mistake early in the game, and they took advantage of it. You’ve got to give all the credit to Picayune.”
Senior Michael McCarty took the loss for Pascagoula, allowing five hits and striking out nine with five walks. Taylor had two of Picayune’s five hits, adding a single in the seventh.
Pascagoula travels to the Jackson area this weekend to play in the Mid-Mississippi Classic, taking on South Panola at Brandon at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers battle Mountain Brook (Ala.) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Northwest Rankin, and Central (La.) Private at
Picayune takes on Gulfport at Pearl River Community College at 11 a.m. Saturday.