Central Private has a rich baseball tradition with 12 Mississippi Association of Independent Schools state titles, including the Class 2A title last season.
But Clinton-based Silliman Institute, making its first playoff appearance since 2007, hopes to add to its two state titles (2000, ’02) when the teams meet for the MAIS Class 2A South State title starting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Central Private (17-11).
The best-of-three series resumes Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Silliman (21-7). A third game, if necessary, will be played Friday.
The South winner faces the North winner for the state title next week.
Silliman defeated Centerville in three games as the Wildcats claimed their first district title since 2005. Central Private finished second in district after winning 11 straight titles.
“It should be an interesting series,” Silliman coach John Beauchamp said. “Central Private has an edge in experience. I think my team is more talented. If we play up to our capabilities, we should do well.”
“It’s going to be a sellout crowd at our place, and we’re excited about the game,” Central Private coach Jason Kinchen said. “Eight starters graduated from our state title team. The younger guys stepped up this season. Our pitching and defense are strengths.”
Junior shortstop Brendon Alvarez, sophomore second baseman Gavyn Andre, sophomore third baseman Alec Martin and senior catcher Easton Holmes are key Central Private players on the defensive side.
Senior Brandon Trahan (5-2, 2.30 ERA, 29 Ks) gets the start for Central Private on Tuesday, while Silliman will go with junior Jordan Talley (8-0, 1.69).
“Jordan Talley is a competitor,” Beauchamp said. “He locates his spots well. He’s not afraid to throw inside.”
Central Private offensive leaders include sophomore designated hitter A.J. Harrison (.361, seven HRs, 24 RBIs) and junior first baseman Kris Tamplet (.377, one HR, 13 RBIs).
Silliman’s defense is led by senior catcher Tyler Boyd, who has 21 pickoffs on the season.
“(Boyd) is good behind the plate and tough to run on,” Kinchen said. “He’s a seasoned catcher with great imagination.”
Silliman offensive leaders include Jordan Tallet (.436, five HRs, 25 RBIs), first baseman Darian Tunstall (.385, three HRs, 17 RBIs), left fielder Colton Courree (.365, on-base percentage of .549), center fielder Zach Kelly (.359, three HRs, 25 RBIs) and infielder Trey Berthelot (.339). Silliman’s team batting average is .320.
The majority of Silliman’s starters are sophomores or juniors.
Beauchamp said his team’s confidence grew following the Centerville series.
“We’ve had some losing seasons here recently,” he said. “The guys have worked hard and believe they can do it. Our goal all year was to make the playoffs. We want to keep advancing.”