Wesson, Loyd Star, Lawrence Co. continue playoff march

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

Loyd Star, Wesson and Lawrence County, bolstered by openinground victories in the state baseball playoffs, continue theirstate title chase this weekend in the South State semifinals. LoydStar faces Seminary and Wesson plays Sumrall in Class 2A whileLawrence County tackles Laurel in Class 4A, all in best-of-threeseries formats.

Wesson (18-7), which celebrates its annual junior/senior promFriday night, starts the series a few hours early, hosting Sumrall(14-10) Friday at 3 p.m. The Cobras visit the Bobcats Saturdaynight at Sumrall for the second game, starting at 7. A third game,if necessary, would be played Monday at Wesson, at 5 p.m.

Loyd Star (22-7) hosts Seminary (27-4) Friday night at 7. GameTwo will be played Saturday night at Seminary, starting at 7. Athird game, if necessary, will be played Monday night at LoydStar.

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Lawrence County (20-11) hosts Laurel Friday night at 7, inMonticello. The series moves to Laurel for Game Two, at 6 p.m. Athird game would be played Monday night at Lawrence County, ifnecessary.

Wesson will face a talented pitcher in Friday’sgame, according to Wesson head coach Phillip Knight. Jerry Bourneis Sumrall’s ace.

“Their No. 1 pitcher is real good,” said Knight. “He throws it83 (mph) with a decent curveball. I think he has won nine of their14 games.

“The Bourne kid had five base hits over the weekend,” Knightcontinued. “They had another guy who had six hits in twogames.”

The Bobcats, coached by Randy Lott, were runners-up to Seminaryin the Division 7-2A.

Wesson defeated Gulfport St. John two straight in the openinground of the playoffs. “We have our eyes set on higher goals,” saidKnight.

Offensively, Joseph Langham leads Wesson with a .389 battingaverage. Langham (6-2), a right-hander also pitches for the Cobras.He has a 2.23 ERA and pitched last Thursday’s win over St. John atGulfport.

Kyle Smith (5-1), a senior right-hander, won Friday night’s gameagainst St. John. He has a 1.89 ERA.

Third baseman Russell Robinson bats .363 for the Cobras. CatcherChris Peets leads the Cobras with 5 home runs and is batting.286.

“It will take good pitching to beat Sumrall,” said Knight. “Wehave to keep them off balance with changeups and curves. Ourdefense must be good behind (pitchers) and we have to hit the ballwith people in scoring position.”

“You have to pitch it, catch it and hit it,” he added. “If youdo those three things, you are in pretty good shape.”

The Cobras are off to 18-7 start. This is the first time forWesson to reach the second round of the playoffs.

Knight, making a return to the helm last summer, has beencoaching baseball at Wesson for six years. He was out of baseballfor five years. Knight replaced Jerry Brewer who coached the Cobrasfor two years before taking a job at McComb last year.

A large crowd is expected Friday afternoon. “We need a good homefield advantage,” said Knight.

Seven seniors start for Wesson. They are Peets, Robinson, RyanWilliams at shortstop, Peyton Warren at second base, Kyle Smith,third base; Justin Smith, first base; and Tom Burgess in rightfield.

Loyd Star has a tough second round opponent inthe Seminary Bulldogs. Seminary overpowered Clarkdale in winning 2straight playoff games. They are coached by Eddie Lofton.

The Hornets swept North Forrest in the opening round, winning6-2 Thursday at Loyd Star and 11-7 Saturday at North Forrest.

Coached by Sidney Wheatley, the Hornets got complete games frompitchers Jared Britt (7-2) and Jody Britt (6-2). Jared Britt is ajunior southpaw and Jody Britt is a senior right-hander.

Jody Britt hit 2 homers in the series, giving him 11 for theseason. Cody Cunningham also homered. Jared Britt had 3 hits inSaturday night’s win. Second baseman Justin Whatley doubled andtripled in the series. Rightfielder Blake Wall and catcher MatthewDelaughter had 2 hits.

Lawrence County, coached by Chris Clark, cameback strong to beat East Central after losing an opening round gameat Hurley. The Cougars rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of theseventh to beat the Hornets 9-8 Friday night at Monticello and thenposted a series-clinching 9-2 victory Saturday night at Hurley asLuke Watts pitched a 2-hitter.

The Cougars got some big home runs from Klein Harbour and DavidGilbert to beat East Central. Corey Rogers launched a 3-run homerSaturday night.

Luke Leggett coaches the Laurel Tornadoes. Leggett has been atLaurel for five years.

Laurel is 19-6. The Tornadoes finished runners-up to Picayune inDivision 7-4A.

Top pitcher for Laurel is Ben Smith (6-1). He also playsshortstop. Smith hit the game-winning homer in the bottom of theeighth to beat West Jones.

At the plate, senior catcher Buddy Wyrick hit 2 homers in a 6-1victory over West Jones. He also was the winning pitcher inrelief.

Brandon Easterwood, a senior outfielder, is hitting over .400.He has signed a soccer scholarship with Jones County JuniorCollege.

Centerfielder Cagney Ulmer has signed to play baseball for JCJC.He hit 2 homers Friday night against West Jones.

Demond Morrow, a pitcher who was suspended, is making a comebackat Laurel.