One of the sweetest seasons for Poplarville baseball in recent memory came to an end on a sour note Monday.
The Hornets fell to homestanding West Jones 11-3 in the third and deciding game of the Class 4A South State quarterfinal series. The Mustangs will move on to face Vancleave in the semifinals.
Poplarville, which made it past the opening round of the state playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, ends its year at 20-11.
West Jones jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after two innings on Monday and the Hornets, despite closing the gap at one point, could never recover.
“”I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” first year Poplarville head coach Jimmy Agent said.”We had a good year, we have nothing to be ashamed about. We just didn’t get it done today.”
West Jones got off to a good start against Poplarville ace Ashley Greater. Chase Headrick led the game off with a home run, and then in the next inning Tyler Gardner smashed a three run round-tripper as the Mustangs galloped out to the five run advantage.
Poplarville broke through in the third when Eli Frierson drew a bases loaded walk to make it 5-1.
Then, in the fourth, Jonathan Anderson slapped a two run single as the Hornets cut the deficit to 5-3.
Unfortunately for Poplarville, though, the Hornets also left seven runners on base in the first four frames…with more of the same to come.
The Hornets, still trailing 5-3, got a double from Brock Matthews with one out in the fifth that put PHS runners on second and third and chased Mustang ace Garrett Moore from the mound. But Headrick came on in relief and retired the next two Hornet hitters.
Riding that momentum, the Mustangs then put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the frame.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances and they took advantage of theirs,” Agent added. “Not coming up with the big hit has kind of been our achille’s heel all year.”
Grater also doubled for the Hornets in the contest. He took the loss on the hill as well and ended his final season at 9-4.
Moore picked up the win for the Mustangs and Headrick earned the save.
The winner of the West Jones-Vancleave series will move on to meet the survivor of the East Central-Long Beach series for the South State title.