If we had to get technical, and for this, we will, West Jones baseball under second-year head coach Trey Sutton finished the 2018 regular season with just one loss. It’s 10-0 loss to Brandon on April 19th was not a game initially scheduled at the onset of the season. Sutton added the game to supplement the first-round bye week his team earned by winning the Region 5-5A title in the regular season.
“It was a great year,” said Sutton. “We won 27 ball games – which I think ties a school record – and we were ranked in the top 10 all year. We even sneaked into some national rankings, whether we earned that type of notoriety of not who knows, but it’s nice that your school gets that the recognition of the job the players does on the field.”
West Jones ended year two under Sutton, 27-5, and made its way to the South State Championship series for just the fourth time in program history.
Sutton is Sports601’s 2018 Baseball Coach of the Year.
“It was a great second year,” Sutton said. “I felt like we grew a lot as a program. The kids gave everything they had until the last out, and that is all you can ask for.
The West Jones program has been known for its winning tradition even before Sutton’s reigning in as head coach. In the five seasons before Sutton’s first year, West Jones put together an overall record of 99-53, including three consecutive 20-win seasons (2014, 2015, 2016).
Still, year two under Sutton was an accomplishment worth its notoriety.
“I think what you saw in year two is what we want to be about as a program in how we operated and what’s expected,” said Sutton. “I think you saw that on the field. We preach hard work, never quitting and determination. We teach it all the time, in life and on the baseball field.
“The coolest thing about this year was seeing a lot of the things we’ve been talking about being played out on the field. We won five or six ball games by coming back late, and that is a credit to the kids and the kids refusing to lose.”
And no one will forget the bottom of the seventh three-run bomb by Kris Riley vs. Pearl River Central in Game 3 that sent West Jones to its first South State series since 2014 – the year West Jones advanced all the way to the Class 5A title series.
West Jones eventually lost the South State series in two games to Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg later won the Class 5A title, whipping the North Champion Lewisburg in two games, 9-5 and 11-1.
All that Sutton and the West Jones program accomplished in 2018 was mastered with a predominate underclassman lineup. Five of West Jones’ starting nine were juniors.
“It’s very exciting,” said Sutton. “Of course we are losing two guys that meant a lot to our program. They were good players. But when you look back on the season, and you turn the page and look at next year, you have to be excited. I feel like our kids are hungry, even a week out of season. They are ready to go already.”
Evan Bynum and Hayden Bryan were the only seniors on the roster. Both were dominating on the mound and productive at the plate. Bynum finished 6-0 on the mound with a 2.47 ERA and batted just over .300 on the year (.305). Bryan was 5-0 on the mound, boasted a 0.87 ERA and hit .229 at the plate.
“We have a great core group coming back, though,” Sutton added. “We’ll have to have some younger guys step in and fill some holes but what I’m hoping, and what I feel will happen, is that they’ll be hungry after being so close this year.”