by Joseph W. Gex II, Contributing Writer
The Saint Stanislaus Rock-A-Chaws swept a pair of games against the Clarkdale Bulldogs last week to claim the South State championship and earn a berth in the Class 3A state championship baseball series next week at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The sweep puts the Rocks in the state finals on the diamond for the third time since 2010.
In Game 1 of the Class 3A South State championship series, mother nature decided to suspend play in the third inning on Tuesday evening. Chesley Rhodes smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning for the only scoring on Tuesday.
Clarkdale returned to Bay St. Louis on Thursday evening to complete the game. In the top of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs knotted the score at 1-1 with a sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Rocks (21-12) took the lead that they would not surrender when Brady Wallis singled home Kyle Stegall who started the inning off with a walk. Hill Gainey and Jeremy Mares both added singles during the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Seth Farni scored on a past ball to make the score 3-1.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Mares singled to start the inning and later scored on an errant throw to second base by the Bulldogs. Cole Shirley, running for Gainey, scored on a past ball to make the final score 5-1.
SSC head coach Brad Corley commented, “I am super proud of Hill Gainey and what he had to do over the course of two playing dates due to weather. He has been solid for us all year. Seth Farni came in behind him and shut the door. Clarkdale is a very good team and Cal Culpepper is one of the best competitors I have seen. We still have to go to Clarkdale for the second game.”
In Game 2 on the road, the Rocks rose to the challenge to get the sweep. Hugh LeMasters drew the start on the road and threw three innings and allowed three hits and three earned runs. Farni came in and threw three and one-third innings allowing no hits, no runs, and fanned six batters.
At the plate, LeMasters had three hits including a double and two RBI while Farni added two hits including a two-run home run. Rhodes had a double and an RBI while Gainey tailed a hit. Wiley Mossy added an RBI sacrifice bunt.
Corley stated, “I am very proud of this team’s competitiveness during this run through the playoffs. We swept an extremely tough Clarkdale team. To be able to complete that against a team that put us out last year is gratifying. Now, we turn our focus to another stellar team in Amory. We will prepare to do the very best we can to compete with them.”
The championship series for Class 3A begins on Tuesday, May 30, at Trustmark Park at 4 p.m. with Game 1. The second game will be played on Thursday, June 1, at 4 p.m. If necessary, a third game will be played on Saturday, June 3, at a time to be determined.
Amory (31-4) is the defending Class 3A state champion. The Rocks and Amory have met once on the diamond before in 2010 for the Class 4A state championship. The Rocks swept Amory in that state championship series. SSC started the year 3-10 overall and have gone 18-2 over their last 20 games.