• 54°

Tide sweeps in baseball playoffs

By CURTIS ROCKWELL

Item Sports Editor

Picayune’s pitching proved particularly proficient in the opening round of the Class 4A South State playoffs.

And the Maroon Tide’s hitting wasn’t bad either.

Picayune pounded Mendenhall twice by 10 runs to win the opening round series, winning 10-0 on the road Friday night and coming back home to capture an 11-1 win on Saturday.

The wins push Picayune, ranked 10th in the state, to 18-3 on the year and the Maroon Tide will face Vancleave in the second round of the playoffs beginning Thursday.

“I’m very happy with the way our pitchers performed,” Picayune head coach Cayne Stockstill said, in particular about Bryce Ladner and Jonathan Hickman. “We know that depth in your pitching staff is everything this time of year, and we feel like we are getting much stronger there.”

On Friday, Ladner twirled a three hit shutout moving to a perfect 8-0 in the process.

The Tide’s ace struck out seven and faced just two batters over the minimum.

“He did a real good job,” Stockstill said. “He threw strikes and got ahead and that was the key.”

Ladner got support from Jared Bales who smashed a grand slam, his second of the year and sixth round tripper of the season. Evan Nichelson also hit a home run, and both he and Bales added singles to the winning cause while Ladner helped himself with a double and a single and both Brett Milner and Hunter Gill had run scoring singles.

On Saturday, Hickman went the distance in the five inning affair to earn the win and move to 2-0 as he struck out six.

“Jonathan just exudes confidence out there,” Stockstill added. “He has really come a long ways.”

The Maroon Tide wasted no time in continuing their momentum from Friday night, as Picayune jumped out to a 6-0 lead after three frames. A five run fourth made it 11-0 and set the stage for the early exit.

Gill had a triple and a double and drove in two runs in the win, while Bales and Jake Riser both had a double and a single and both drove in runs as well. MIlner also had an RBI and Kyle Beech had a two run pinch it single as well.

“We did what we needed to do to win the games,” Stockstill concluded. “We are ready to take that next step on the ladder and keep proving ourselves.”

Picayune will host game one of the best of three series Thursday with game two set for Vancleave on Friday. Vancleave swept South Jones in the opening round.

Mendenhall finished the season at 8-20.