ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Home-field advantage hadn't meant much for either South Jones or Stone high schools in the first two games of their Class 5A opening-round playoff baseball series.
At least until Monday night.
Junior right-hander John Mitchell twirled a complete-game four-hitter and the Braves struck for four runs in the third inning on their way to a series-clinching 5-1 victory over the Tomcats.
"Really proud of these guys," South Jones coach Jordan Rogers said. "You get the chance to extend your season, that's what you want."
The Braves (14-10) did just that, and will travel to Natchez High School Friday night to open the best-of-three, second-round series. Game two will take place in Ellisville Saturday.
Stone (9-15) saw its season come to an end in the rubber match of a series that saw each team win on the road in splitting the first two games.
"We just couldn't get any momentum," Stone coach Sean Miller said.
Mitchell (4-1) had a lot to do with that, facing the minimum 14 batters before yielding a three-hop single up the middle to Errol McDonald with two outs in the fifth inning. An error moved McDonald to third base and he scored on Miles Allison's single.
But that would prove to be the Tomcats' sole run. Stone got a pair of singles in the seventh, but Mitchell got a groundball to close out the game.
Mitchell scattered four singles, didn't walk a batter and struck out nine.
"He threw a great game," Miller said. "Once he got going, we couldn't get anything going. He threw a lot of breaking balls and making pitches when he needed them. After the second inning, I knew it was going to be a tough one."
The Braves got to Stone starter Tyler Cobb with two outs in third inning.
Cobb alternated outs with walks, putting Sumrall and Ricky Boleware aboard, and Ben Welch scorched a full-count pitch through third base and into left field to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Andrew Howard's single finished Cobb's evening, and Max Sharp greeted reliever Hunter Clark with a two-run single to put South Jones up 4-0.
Following two more walks in the fourth inning, Boleware's two-out single gave the Braves a 5-0 lead.
Rogers said Monday offered a chance at redemption after the Braves stranded numerous runners in 4-1 home loss Friday.
"That was weird deal there," Rogers said. "I thought it was a déjà vu situation, and (Monday), when (they) had the chance, they came through. I'm proud of the guys."
Mitchell said Saturday's 9-5 win in Wiggins in an elimination situation gave the Braves a shot in the arm.
"Saturday gave us a little sense of confidence, and then coming back here in front of the home crowd, that was an energy boost," Mitchell said.
South Jones finished with six hits and also coaxed six walks off Cobb and Clark. Boleware had a double and singles, while Mitchell, Howard, Sharp and Sumrall each singled.
McDonald and Allison each had two singles for the Tomcats.