BRANDON — Braden Smith couldn't have asked for a better night.
Smith had four hits with eight runs batted in to help lead No. 4 Brandon past No. 9 Petal 15-5 in five innings to claim the Region 5-6A championship on Thursday night at Mark Vinson Field.
Also, with the win Brandon clinches a first round bye in the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs that begin April 25.
“Every time we’d give up runs the guys would come in and put up more. We had a lot of hard hits tonight,” said Brandon coach Daniel Best. “Braden Smith was unbelievable tonight but he wasn’t the only one. We had a lot of guys hit the ball hard and I’m proud of them.”
Petal jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first highlighted by an Eli Waters solo home run to center.
Brandon responded with four runs in the bottom half highlighted by back-to-back home runs, including a Smith three-run home run to center and a solo home run by Southern Miss signee Jacob Keys.
Petal regained the lead at 5-4 in the top of the second on an RBI double by Waters and RBI single by Tanner Beliveau.
After that it was all Brandon.
The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the second as Smith hit his second three-run homer of the game to center to give Brandon a 7-5 lead.
Brandon added five runs in the bottom of the third to stretch the lead out to 12-5.
In the bottom of the fifth Smith added a two-run double to right-center to give Brandon a 14-5 lead.
Smith finished the game 4-for-4 with eight RBI’s and was a triple shy of the cycle.
“The first one (homerun) I saw two fastballs and adjusted and saw it good. Second one I was looking off-speed and it was an off-speed pitch, so it worked out,” Smith said. “Just saw the ball good tonight. We had to play as a team tonight and everything worked and this lineup is starting to click. This is awesome clinching district already.”
Mississippi State signee K.K. Clark ended the game with a single to right to end the game in a 10-run.
Ole Miss commit Walker Hooks (6-2) got the win on the mound for Brandon tossing a complete game allowing eight hits, five earned runs and striking out five. Xavier Myles, Diego Maddox and Jay McQueen had two hits each for the Bulldogs (16-5, Region 5-6A).
“He didn’t have his best stuff tonight and was missing up in the zone and in 6A baseball teams will make you pay. I told him after the game that he is human and the sticks had his back. Braden has been seeing the ball well lately and I'm really proud of him. He has been leading the team on the offensive side,” Best said. “Our first goal is to clinch district and just go from there. We’re playing with a lot of momentum right now and hopefully we'll keep it going.”
Waters and Keegan Giger had two hits to lead Petal (14-5, 2-4). Andy Hillman (1-2) took the loss on the mound.
“Offensively we couldn’t have asked for anything else against a guy like Hooks and I was proud of the guys for fighting, but really frustrated the way we pitched tonight,” said Petal coach Jake Mills. “Give them credit they took advantage of our mistakes pitching and it’s something we've got to learn from going forward and limit big innings.”