SSC 2023 Baseball South State Champs vs Clarkdale 20 May 2023

by Joseph W. Gex II, Contributing Writer

The Saint Stanislaus Rock-A-Chaws got off to a good start in the Class 3A best-of-three championship series against the Amory Panthers at Trustmark Park in Pearl but ended up falling in the decisive third game on Saturday, June 3, to end the year as the Class 3A state runner-up.
For the casual fan, this may seem like a disappointment; however, the Rocks started the year 3-10 before going 19-4 to close the season out with a 22-14 overall record. Along the way, the Rocks picked up the #2-seed out of Division 8-3A and went 9-2 in the playoffs earning a berth in the Class 3A championship series with a sweep of Clarkdale in South State championship series a week before.
Saint Stanislaus head coach Brad Corley commented, “We are extremely proud of this group of young men and what they have done to get to this point. Yes, it is difficult to lose in the state championship series, but it is extremely special to get here. What this team and this senior class did to get us here is remarkable. Not too many teams get this far and Amory is one of the best teams in the state, but so are we. Amory defended their state championship, but we took them to a third game. Credit to Amory, they outplayed us. It hurts, but we are very proud of this team and their accomplishments.”
In the first game on Tuesday, May 30, the Rocks were down early 2-0 but chipped into the lead with a run in the second inning to make the score 2-1. Amory added a run in the third inning despite loading the bases with no outs.
In the fifth inning, the Rocks added five runs on six walks as Amory went through three pitchers in the inning to make the score 6-3.
In the game, Hugh LeMasters, Jeremy Mares, Brady Wallis, and Tate Murphy all had hits. Wallis had 2 RBI while Seth Farni, Mares, and LeMasters all had one. Hill Gainey got the win on the mound throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing five hits, two earned runs, and striking out six batters.
Farni entered in relief throwing 1 2/3 innings and allowed two hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Amory walked nine SSC batters in the game.
Corley commented after the first game, “Amory has the best record of anyone playing in the state championships. For us to get a win in the first game is huge especially when we did not play well. We committed three errors in the game. That is a credit to our guys, especially Hill Gainey and Seth Farni, who continued to throw no matter the situation. Hill Gainey gives us a boost in confidence when he is on the mound and Brady Wallis has seemed to come up with a big hit when we need it. This was truly a team effort and we appreciate all the fan support from the community and the administration that traveled up to see us play today.”
In the second game on Thursday, the Rocks started the game with a triple by Farni. LeMasters drove Farni in with a single to make the score 1-0. Kyle Stegall drove LeMasters in for a 2-0 lead on an infield single.
Amory wasted little time taking the lead in the top of the second inning when they scored three runs on three hits for a 3-2 lead.
The Panthers added single runs in the third and fourth innings to push their lead to 5-2. In the fifth inning, Amory scored twice to make the score 7-2.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, the Rocks added two runs. Farni led the inning off with a walk followed by LeMasters’ single to centerfield. Stegall smacked a ground rule double to leftfield scoring Farni and LeMasters to make the score 7-4.
Amory scored an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning to make the score 8-4.
SSC added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning when Chesley Rhodes hit a moonshot into the leftfield bullpen to make the score final score 8-5. In the Rocks’ three trips to the state finals at Trustmark Park, Rhodes’ blast was the first homerun for SSC in the state finals.
Corley stated after the second game, “Amory did a great job of getting their lead off hitter on in six out of seven innings. We have to do a better job of not letting that happen. I thought we sung the bat better today than we did in the first game. We also had the bases loaded twice and could not capitalize on that with a big hit. But, that is baseball and anything can happen. We will have to bounce back in the third game.”
In the second game, LeMasters had two hits and a RBI while Stegall had two hits and two RBI. Farni and Rhodes each had a hit and mares tallied an RBI.
On the mound, LeMasters threw four innings and took the loss surrendering five earned runs, 11 hits, and one strikeout. Murphy threw 1 1/3 innings and allowed three runs and two hits. Mares pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed no hits, no runs, and had a strikeout.
In the third game, Farni started the game with a solo home run that landed in the picnic tables behind the leftfield bullpen to make the score 1-0. LeMasters drew a walk and was singled home by Mares to make the score 2-0.
In the bottom of the first, Farni loaded the bases with no outs and then fanned the next three batters to keep Amory off the board.
Rhodes led off the third inning with a single, advanced to second on a past ball, and then stole third base but was not able to touch home plate. In the bottom of the third inning, Amory got two runners on with no outs. The Panthers scored a run on a SSC error to make the score 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Amory plated five runs on one hit and two errors to make the score 6-2 which would end up being the final tally. The Rocks stranded six baserunners in their last nine outs and bat 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position for the game.
Corley added after the third game, “When you can’t get a timely hit, it is very hard to win. It is very special to get to this point because so many teams never get this opportunity. We will dearly miss this senior group. Credit Amory, as they outplayed us. Seth Farni did a great job on the mound for us and Hill Gainey came in and threw well. We just did not hit well in situations where we needed a big hit. Amory had a big five-run inning which was the difference. We did not get much production, offensively. Throughout the year, we jumped out on teams and did not win middle innings. We hope these young players took notice and learn from the experience. It hurts when you don’t win, but next week we will get back to work.”
in the third game, Rhodes had three hits and Farni had two including the home run. Murphy and Mares each had a hit. Farni threw four innings and allowed two earned runs, five hits, and struck out six batters. The Rocks committed three errors and Amory committed two errors in the game. The Panthers tallied just five hits in the game.
This was the third trip to the state finals on the diamond for the Rocks and the first time they lost the title series. SSC sports a finals record of 5-2 and holds a 3-2 advantage over Amory in the state finals having swept the Panthers in 2010. SSC swept Houston in 2015.