South Jones travels to West, NEJ draws West Lauderdale in crucial region matchups
Tonight (Tuesday) on diamonds throughout the Free State, the prep baseball landscape will take form.
At 7 tonight, South Jones will play at arch-rival West Jones. Across the county, perennial baseball power West Lauderdale will play at Northeast Jones.
The winner of each game will take the lead in the race for their respective region championships. But nothing will be decided.
West Jones will travel to South Jones at 7 Friday night, while Northeast Jones will make the trek to Collinsville for a rematch with the Knights on Thursday night at 7.
The Tigers enter the showdown with West Lauderdale with a 15-1 record, while the Knights sport a 13-2 record. Both teams are 4-0 and atop the Region 5-4A standings.
Northeast Jones features a potent offensive attack that averages nearly nine runs per game. Patrick Little leads all Tigers’ hitters with a .524 average, with three doubles, a pair of home runs and 12 RBIs. Reid Reynolds is batting .511 and has six doubles and two triples. As a team, the Tigers are batting .365.
As dominating as the hitting has been, the pitching has been just a stellar. The team has a 0.79 team ERA — meaning Tigers’ pitchers allow less than one earned run per game. Opponents have scored 24 total runs — a 1.5 per game average — against Tigers’ pitching.
Northeast Jones has won 13 straight games after suffering its only loss of the season on Feb. 26 to Lamar Christian.
West Lauderdale is one of the most storied baseball programs in Mississippi, having won 13 state championships — including defeating Corinth for last year’s state title.
West Lauderdale lost 7-6 to West Jones earlier in the year and is coming off a 12-4 thumping by Jackson Academy on Saturday.
Senior Hunter Eldridge leads the Knights with a .486 average, three doubles, five home runs and 30 RBIs. Braden Luke is hitting .395 with four long balls. As a team, the Knights are hitting .328 and score nearly 10 runs per game.
Etheridge and Cameron Partridge each have five victories on the mound for West Lauderdale.
South Jones vs. West Jones
The Braves’ early-season struggles — they lost their first four games of the season — are a thing of the past as South Jones has won eight of its last nine games heading into the first of three showdowns in the next three weeks against the Mustangs.
The Braves (8-5, 3-0 Region 5-5A) are coming off a 17-1 victory over Laurel on Friday and a 7-4 victory over Greene County on Saturday.
Bryson Sumrall leads all hitters with at least 20 plate appearances for the Braves with a .472 average and three doubles. Max Sharp is hitting .400 and has driven in nine runs.
Sharp has been just that on the mound with a 3-1 record and a 1.07 ERA. John Mitchell and Ricky Boleware each have two pitching victories.
Braves’ pitchers will have to be sharp against a West Jones team that has won nine straight games. The 14-1 Mustangs last lost more then three weeks ago at Hattiesburg.
Sam Hill leads Mustang batters with a .382 average and 11 RBIs, while Dustin Dickerson is hitting .349 with 11 RBIs and three home runs.
Dickerson, Hayden Bryan and Evan Bynum each have three pitching victories. Mustang pitchers are allowing 1.25 runs per game and strike out nine batters per game on average.