By Robert Wilson
Photos by Chris Todd and Robert Smith
Jackson Prep defeated Madison-Ridgeland Academy 5-1 to complete a sweep of the best-of-three series to win its fourth consecutive MAIS Class 5A state championship Thursday night at Prep in Flowood.
Prep finished with a 34-3 record and its 14th straight victory. The Patriots haven’t lost since a 3-1 decision to MRA April 2. MRA finished 27-11.
Senior shortstop and Mississippi State signee Jeffrey Ince hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to lift Prep from a 1-1 tie and sophomore outfielder and MSU commitment Rives Reynolds added a run-scoring single in the fifth inning for a 5-1 lead.
Senior first baseman J.K. Nowell hit an RBI groundout to give Prep a 1-0 lead in the first inning and MRA tied it on senior second baseman and Southern Miss signee Niko Mazza’s home run in the second inning.
Senior right-hander and Ole Miss signee Mason Nichols, 7-1, allowed only six hits and one run in five innings to pick the pitching victory. Junior Jagger Mooneyham allowed no hits and no runs in 1 2/3 innings and junior right-hander and MSU commitment Will Gibbs allowed one hit and no runs in one inning.
Senior third baseman Austin Savell had two hits for MRA.“I thought Mason did a great job giving us a chance to win, kept us in the ball game and battled the way seniors do,” Prep coach Brent Heavener said. “Rives had a big hit to get us up 2-1 and then Jeffrey’s home run just slammed the door. When you’ve got a guy like Jagger and Will in the bullpen, it’s easy to bring them in and shut the door. I’m so proud of these players and the seniors. I think we proved that we are one of if not the best team in the state of Mississippi.”
“Prep was an outstanding team. We knew that going into the series. It was just a matter of which team was going to execute the best. Prep did,” MRA coach Allen Pavette said. “I thought we played great defense and pitched well. We didn’t get the big hits and they did. I’m not taking anything away from them, they are a good baseball team. They have some outstanding pitchers and players. Coach Heavener does a great job. Hats off to them. I’m proud of our team. I thought we had a good season, and we just came up a little bit short.”
Senior right-hander and Ole Miss signee Riley Maddox threw a one-hitter with seven strikeouts and hit a home run to Prep to a 3-0 victory over MRA Wednesday night in Game 1.
Both games were played at Prep due to MRA’s wet field.