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Hitting comes alive for New Hope in sweep of Pearl

 

Scott Walters

 

PEARL -- After a sluggish offensive performance in a playoff win Saturday afternoon, New Hope High School baseball coach Lee Boyd said the time would come when the Trojans won a playoff game based on their offense. 

 

Two days later, the coach was proven correct. 

 

New Hope pounded out 19 hits in a 14-1, five-inning rout of Pearl to sweep the Mississippi High School Activities Association second-round Class 5A North State playoff series Monday night at Pearl Pirate Park. 

 

"We really came out ready to go today because we didn't want this series to last," New Hope junior Payton Lane said."We know what kind of grind the playoffs are after going through them last season. We are trying to make this as short as possible this time around." 

 

New Hope (28-3) will face Region 2 rival Oxford (26-8) in the North State championship series, which begins Thursday in New Hope. The Trojans, who eclipsed their win total from last season when they won the Class 5A crown, will play for the North State title for a third-straight season. New Hope's 15-game winning streak started after a 5-1 home loss to Oxford on March 28. 

 

"We did everything offensively, and that is a good sign," Boyd said. "You take no playoff win for granted, so we were looking forward to playing again after Saturday. You could tell after the first inning it was going to be a different kind of offensive night." 

 

New Hope was limited to three hits in Saturday in a 3-0 win. The Trojans bettered that mark seven batters into Monday's finale. In each game, New Hope led 3-0 after one inning. On Saturday, that was the ending. On Monday, it was the beginning. 

 

"There is no doubt we didn't have our best offensive game Saturday," New Hope senior shortstop Will Golsan said. "The thing about this team is we can always shrug off a game like that and bounce back. We were really determined to come out and start this game strong because we wanted to take them out of it early." 

 

New Hope did just that. The Trojans had three runs (on four hits) in the first, three runs (again on four hits) in the second, three runs (on five hits) in the third, and five runs (again on five hits) in the fourth. 

 

Pearl (18-13) had the good fortunate of turning two spectacular plays to end two innings or the separation could have been much worse. After managing three hits off Josh Stillman in the series opener, the Pirates only garnered two hits off J.C. Redden, Lane, and Taylor Stafford. 

 

Redden threw three innings of no-hit baseball (with one unearned run). Lane was touched for both hits back-to-back in the fourth. Stafford struck out the side in the fifth. 

 

"The pitchers threw strikes," Boyd said. "The biggest key to our postseason success has been pitchers throwing strikes. We have challenged hitters. Offensively, we have done what we have needed to do to win games." 

 

New Hope's score sheet had lots of leaders Monday night. 

 

Golsan had a double, two singles, and two RBIs. Rooke Coleman had three hits. Lane had a double, two singles, and two RBIs. Stillman had a single, double, and four RBIs. Wells Davis had two singles and two RBIs. Redden had two singles. Parker Earhart had two singles and an RBI, and Taylor Stafford and Jake Hollis had a single and RBI. 

 

"We really needed the confidence lift after Saturday," Lane said. "You could tell during pregame our guys were really anxious to get to the plate and get some things started. Once we had a couple of hits early, it carried over throughout the team." 

 

Davis had a two-run single in the first, while Lane chased starting pitcher Clay Pittman with a similar hit in the second. The biggest blow came in the third when Stillman cleared the bases with a three-run double to the outfield gap. 

 

For New Hope, the playoff mark is 4-0. However, this was the first postseason win by the run rule. A year ago, the Trojans were taken to the brink a couple of times before securing their first state championship in 10 years. This season, no such scare has taken place yet. 

 

"It's a totally different mind-set this year because we have been there before," Golsan said. "I think we know when it is time to go now. We have a different confidence level after winning last season. It has made the desire stronger to show we can do it again." 

 

A region rival is still never a good thing in the postseason. Oxford coaches and players scouted the New Hope game Monday night since its playoff series ended Saturday in two games. 

 

"It's a short week since we turn around and go again Thursday," Boyd said. "To say the kids are excited about this opportunity would be an understatement." 

 

Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott.

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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