Bottom falls out for Maroon Tide

Published 1:50 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

Picayune’s season can come to an abrupt end tonight.

The bottom fell out at the worst time possible for the Maroon Tide Thursday night, as with Picayune seemingly in control with a 4-2 lead in game one of the South State finals defending state champion East Central rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to pull out a 6-4 win.

The teams will meet again tonight in Hurley on the ECHS campus at 7, and win by the Hornets will punch their ticket for a return trip to the Class 4A finals. Picayune must now win tonight and then a third and deciding game back in Picayune on Saturday afternoon at 2 to recover and advance to the state finals for the first time since 2003. A loss either tonight or Saturday will end Picayune’s season.

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The loss ended a nine game win streak for the Maroon Tide, now 22-4, while the Hornets moved to 27-5 with the win.

“It was a tough loss, but I’m not worried about how the kids will come back,” Picayune head coach Cayne Stockstill said. “I think our kids have a lot of resolve and character and we have worked too hard this year to just give up. I think we’ll bounce back.”

Visiting East Central batted around in the decisive seventh stanza, taking advantage of a pair of Maroon Tide errors, a hit batsman at a most inopportune time and a walk to set up a huge two run double by Trey Porter that sealed the win.

“We were fortunate to be able to overcome a lot of mistakes we made,” ECHS head coach Gary Long said. “Picayune battled us and they are as good as advertised. It won’t be easy to put them away.”

The Hornets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third, thanks to four doubles off losing pitcher Jared Bales. The deficit marked the first time in the playoffs that Picayune trailed in a game.

The Tide scratched back, though, getting on the scoreboard with a run in the fourth when Evan Nichelson drove in Hunter Gill and then Picayune took the lead with three runs in the fifth.

Jake Riser and Braxton Lee scored off Hornet errors, and Gill added an RBI-single while Bales had an RBI sacrifice fly.

Bales settled down after the shaky third frame, setting down 11 of 12 batters at one point before the rally by the Hornets in the top of the seventh.

East Central’s Matt Linton came on in relief of Porter in the bottom of the seventh and set the Tie down in order for the save.

Jay Dedeaux added a double for Picayune in the loss, while Ladner drove in a run as well.

It was just the second home loss of the season for the Maroon Tide.

Porter moved to 11-1 with the win.