April 25, 2015 6:05:19 PM
From Special Reports
PHILADELPHIA - New Hope High School keeps churning out the pitching gems.
One night removed from a 10-inning shutout from Josh Stillman, fellow senior Brody Stokes stepped up and delivered Friday night.
Stokes pitched a complete-game six-hitter as New Hope beat Neshoba Central 7-1 to sweep its play-in round best-of-three series to open the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoffs.
"Brody really came through Friday night," New Hope coach Lee Boyd said. "He has really come from nowhere in the last month of the season and really pitched well. We needed one more person to be really good."
New Hope (20-5) will face Pearl (17-9) in the first-round of the playoffs, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pearl. The series continues with a 6:30 p.m. start Thursday at New Hope, while a third game would be Saturday at Pearl.
Last season, New Hope eliminated Pearl on the way to its second straight state championship.
"Pearl is going to present a tremendous challenge for us," Boyd said. "I don't know if we can get by them or not. If we pitch it and defend it though, we have a chance against anybody."
Stillman allowed three hits and walked only one in a 1-0, 10-inning win over Neshoba Central (13-11) Thursday night. Stokes allowed six hits and also only walked one. New Hope committed one error in the series.
"It is no secret that we are struggling to score runs consistently," Boyd said. "That is why we have to play great defense. For the most part, we have done that all season. Josh has really carried us on the mound. He has been tremendous. Then you mix in some of the extra contributions and that is why we are where we are right now."
New Hope scored twice in the first inning of Friday's game and never trailed. An RBI-double by Payton Lane got things going a night after New Hope was stymied until a double, walk, infield hit and sacrifice fly meant victory in the 10th inning.
"We scored in four different innings and that is really huge for our team," Boyd said. "When you get into the playoffs, everything is magnified a little bit more. We have players who have played in some big games in the past and I think that has really helped us."
New Hope has won 15 of its last 16 games, while Stillman's gem Thursday night was the team's ninth shutout of the season.
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