Hornets knock off Tide for last spot

Published 12:32 am Sunday, April 8, 2007

Ashley was Graeter than Picayune on Saturday.

Graeter, the Hornet’s ace, not only twirled a three hit shutout on the mound but drove in four runs at the plate as well as Poplarville blanked Picayune 5-0 in Division 8-4A play.

The win assured the Hornets of the fourth and final spot in the upcoming league postseason tournament, which begins Thursday.

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Poplarvillle, now 11-11 overall and 5-6 in league play, will travel to Long Beach for the opener.

Picayune falls to 5-20 overall and 3-8 in division play, and will end its season on the road against Poplarville on Monday. Saturday’s loss means the Maroon Tide will miss the state playoffs for the third straight season.

“Ashley really came up big for us today, just like he has all year,” Poplarville first year head coach Pete Sciarabba said. “His hitting has really com on as well, especially in the second half of the season. This was big for these kids, to make it to the tournament.”

Graeter gave himself a lead he would never relinquish, when he belted a two run double down the left field line in the third inning.

He later added a two run single as well, in the fourth frame, for the final runs.

“We were pretty confident coming in to the game, because we had been playing pretty well recently,” Graeter, who moved to 5-2 with the win, said. Saturday’s win made it two straight shutouts for the junior, after he blanked Bay High 6-0 Tuesday on a two-hitter. He struck out seven Tuesday and six against Picayune on Saturday.

“I always come in looking to keep the score low from the other team,” Graeter, who will face Long Beach for the first time Thursday, said.

After Graeter’s first big hit, the Hornets took control in a three run fourth. Dustin Touchet had an RBI-single just before Graeter’s second run scoring hit.

In the three division games for Picayune last week, two losses to St. Stanislaus and Saturday’s to Poplarville, Picayune suffered three straight shutouts and managed just six hits.

“That’s been our problem all season long, we haven’t been able to hit the ball,” Picayune head coach Cayne Stockstill said. “Everything else doesn’t really matter when you can’t score any runs. It’s like any other sport, if you don’t score you can’t win. And our like of hitting puts more pressure on our pitchers and our defense.”

Picayune senior starter Andrew Lohnes took the loss, while Jake Martinez relieved in the fourth.

Picayune catcher Jared Bales paced the Tide at the plate with a double

He also had two big outs in the field when he threw out a pair of Hornet base runners to keep the game scoreless early.

The Maroon Tide has been without one of its leading hitters in Jacob Gandy the last two weeks after he broke his arm.

Touchet and Graeter each had two hits for Poplarville in the win.