East Central downs Saltillo, 11-0, claims back-to-back 5A State Championships
PEARL, Miss. (WLOX) - The East Central Hornets are your 2023 MHSAA 5A State Champions.
Following Mr. Baseball T.J. Dunsford’s gem on the mound in Game 1, the team struggled offensively in Game 2. Saltillo took a 2-0 lead early, and despite an RBI double from Nate Trochessett in the bottom of the 6th, the Hornets’ comeback effort would ultimately fall short.
Saturday was a different story.
The Hornets force Saltillo to go to the bullpen early, bringing across 4 runs on 5 hits and an error before recording their first out of the game. They score twice more in the inning to take a 6-run lead before giving Saltillo their first opportunity on offense.
Shortly after pitcher Brayson Owenby held the Tigers scoreless in the bottom frame of the 1st, a pair of walks with a single in between loads the bases for DH Payton McLean, who sends a sacrifice fly into the outfield for his first RBI of the year.
After another walk loads the bases yet again, back-to-back wild pitches bring two more runs across to score, giving East Central a 9-run lead and forcing Saltillo to go to their third pitcher in two innings.
Following the pitching change, a runner caught stealing at third base grants Saltillo their second out of the inning. The Tigers walk yet another batter, but a strikeout by Dunsford finally retires the side. The Hornets hold a 9-0 lead.
The Tigers fail to score during the bottom of the second, leaving one runner in scoring position.
PRCC signee Logan Terry and Trochessett both reach first on back-to-back singles, setting up first baseman Andrew Marble with a runner in scoring position. Marble doubles off of the outfield wall, bringing both runners across home and extending East Central’s lead to 11.
Outfielder Anthony Tanner reaches first after being hit by a pitch. Two strikeouts followed, along with MGCCC signee Brandt Dickerson’s third walk of the day, loading the bases with two outs. A third strikeout puts Saltillo on the sticks.
A walk and an error makes up the Tigers’ offensive effort in the bottom frame. A throw-down from catcher Terry to third base catches a runner off-guard, summing up the game up to this point.
Saltillo makes their fourth pitching change of the game, leading to 3 outs on 5 pitches for East Central. Owenby makes his way out to the mound with a mercy rule becoming more likely.
A double would break up Owenby’s no-hit bid, but the shutout performance remains intact heading into the 5th.
Following a groundout from Marble, Anthony Tanner singles down the left field line. Back-to-back pop-outs now bring up what could potentially be the final 3 outs of the game.
Owenby returns to the hill for the Hornets to face the heart of Saltillo’s lineup. A hit-by-pitch warrants a mound visit, but Owenby remains in the game. A groundout and two flyouts gives the Hornets the win, 11-0, crowning them as the 2023 MHSAA 5A Baseball State Championship.
The win grants East Central their fourth championship in program history — their most recent coming just last year. They finish the season with an overall record of 28-11 and will join 5A Region 4 next year, per MHSAA’s new division alignments.
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