By Robert Wilson

       An outstanding pitching performance by senior left-hander and Ole Miss signee Walter Hooks and a combined four hits by brothers Jay and Tre McQueen has Brandon within one game of its first state baseball championship since 1967.

       Hooks allowed only three hits with seven strikeouts, junior centerfielder and Southern Miss commitment Jay McQueen and freshmen designated hitter Tre McQueen had two hits each to lead Brandon to a 5-2 victory over Hernando Tuesday night in Game 1 of the best of three series for the MHSAA Class 7A state championship series before an estimated 2,500 at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

       Brandon, also playing in its first state championship series since 1967, improved to 24-12. Hernando, trying to win its state title in school history and making its fourth state championship series appearance, dropped to 26-7. Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Trustmark Park. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for Saturday at a time to be announced.

       Hooks, who had a 9-2 record and a 1.89 earned run average coming into the game, didn’t allow a hit for the first four 2/3 innings. Hernando sophomore Cade Koszka’s single broke up Hooks’ no-hitter. The only other two hits off Hooks came in the sixth inning when senior catcher Hallas Lawson doubled and senior first baseman and Ole Miss signee Luke Romine hit a two-run home run.

       Brandon scored two runs in the second inning (Tre McQueen had an infield single, senior shortstop Ethan Trimble reached on an error and Jay McQueen had an infield single), two runs in the fifth inning (freshman second baseman Graydon Walker had a sacrifice fly and senior right fielder Cam Keyes scored on an error) and one run in the sixth inning (senior first baseman and Holmes Community College signee Xavier Myles had an RBI single).