Round 3 of the Class 5A baseball playoffs start on Thursday with Pearl River Central (22-6) matched against West Jones (25-2). Here’s quick preview of the two teams and an video interview with PRC's Neil Walther.
The Mustangs are coached by Trey Sutton, the former West Jones and USM standout, who is in his second year at his alma mater. Sutton holds the career record for hits at USM with 337.
West Jones has four pitchers who have pitched the majority of their innings. Dustin Dickerson (Jr., RHP/SS) is 7-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 54 innings and has recorded 71 strikeouts. Evan Bynum (Sr., RHP/2B) is 6-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 28 innings with 40 strikeouts. Kris Riley (Jr., LHP/OF) is 4-0 with 3.50 ERA in 34 innings and has recorded 49 strikeouts. And finally, Hayden Bryan (Sr., RHP/OF) is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 30.1 innings with 43 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Mustangs are led by Sam Hill (Soph) hitting at a .409 clip. Dickerson is hitting .342 and is second in RBIs with 21. Riley sports a .317 average and leads West Jones with a team high 22 RBIs. And 4 home runs. West Jones has hit 14 home runs this season, has a team batting average of .311, and has stolen 17 bases with Riley getting 5 of the total.
Neil Walther is in his 11th year at helm of the Blue Devils and they are the defending Class 5A champions. Walther describes this team as “just a bunch of moggie alley cats” referring to their different personalities, pedigree, and the strong bond to play hard and fight for each other when challenged that his players exhibit.
The Blue Devils are hitting .308 as team with Eli Lee (Sr.,1B) leading the way with a .410 average and a team leading 33 RBIs and one round tripper. Austen Izzio (Sr., 3B) has 29 RBIs with a .393 average and leads PRC with 35 hits including 3 HRs and 10 doubles. Zach Roussell (Sr., OF) is batting .377 and Hayden Dunhurst leads the Blue Devils in runs scored with 37, is hitting .328 and has driven in 22 runs with 4 home runs. Caleb Tynes (Sr., OF) carries a .329 average and has 19 RBIs and recently set the career record for being hit by a pitch for PRC. PRC has swiped 52 bases with Izzio tallying 15.
Rigel Robinson (Sr.,RHP) has a 8-1 record with a 3.20 ERA, has 92 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. Austin Dean (Jr., RHP) is 6-1 with an ERA of 1.52 in 46 innings and has recorded 46 strikeouts. Blake Craft (Sr., LHP) is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 33.2 innings of work.
Game 1 is set for Thursday in Soso for 7:00pm with Game 2 scheduled for Friday in Carriere at the same time. Game 3 would be back in Soso on Saturday night at 7:00pm.
All of the games to be played in the series will be on WRJW 1320 AM, wrjwradio.com, and the WRJW smart phone app with Joey Johnson, Scooter Black, and Carey Meitzler handling the broadcasts.