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Picayune baseball drops district game to Long Beach

Picayune’s Maroon Tide was just a couple runs away from securing a district win when the team lost to Long Beach 3-1 Tuesday night.

Carson Conner went 1-2 on the night with an RBI and two walks while Tanner Busby got the start on the mound.

The freshman went six innings and struck out five while only allowing two earned runs.

Coming into the season with minimal experience, Busby is progressing quickly and his performances aren’t going unnoticed.

“Busby pitched really well and it was probably his best outing overall of the year. I think he’s had seven starts now and he’s starting to settle in. I honestly think he’s trusting his stuff more and having some success. That’s giving him some confidence, so hopefully he can keep it going,” Head Coach Evan Nichelson said.

Conner’s contributions go beyond the stat lines as one of the few seniors on the team.

Nichelson said the seasoned vet is trying to meet his own lofty standards, but even in an unpredictable season like this one, Conner is making sure to have an impact in the clutch.

“He knows what’s expected and how we do things. He’s great to have around the young guys to hold them accountable. He probably hasn’t hit as well as he’d like, but when you look up it seems like every game he’s had a hit in a key situation and that’s what you want out of an older guy. I want him to keep leading, both when things are going (well) and when things are going (poorly). That’s something he does really well,” Nichelson said.

The Maroon Tide also had six stolen bases against Long Beach.

The aggressive strategy meant the Maroon Tide was advancing runners all night, and although Picayune wasn’t able to plate more runners, putting pressure on opposing defenses is always a plus.

“I feel like our speed is one of our strengths. We don’t necessarily have guys who can bang the ball around the ballpark, so we have to wreak havoc on the bases. We’re going to force the issue because we can’t wait on a three-run home run. We have to scrap, claw and force issues,” Nichelson said.

Next up on the schedule is another matchup against Long Beach away from home on April 1.

Picayune still has plenty of district games to earn a playoff spot, but Nichelson is hoping the rematch with the Bearcats can serve as an opportunity for the team get back on track.

“I think our kids know they can compete with anybody in the district. For us, our record doesn’t (indicate) how hard we’ve been playing. We’re making some young mistakes so hopefully going into Long Beach we can apply a little more pressure offensively, make them have to make plays and just play our game,” Nichelson said.