POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 4 Pearl River had to work Sunday but the Wildcats came away with a big doubleheader sweep of visiting Baton Rouge at Dub Herring Park.
Pearl River had to battle back late in Game 1 to take a 6-5 victory and then plated seven runs in the sixth inning of Game 2 to take the game 10-0.
"I give a lot of credit to Baton Rouge. I thought they played really well early and made it tough on us," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "We had to make some adjustments offensively and it took us a little while to do that. I was glad to see we were able to grind a win out against a strong team.
"It will be good for us moving forward."
GAME 1: PRCC 6, BRCC 5
The Wildcats (4-2 overall) needed some late game heroics to top the Bears in Game 1.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third, Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) slugged his first homer of a season, a solo shot to center field. Britt McKay (Wiggins; Ocean Springs) came around to score in the fourth on a Bears error. BRCC (8-11) tacked on two runs in the fifth to extend its lead to 5-2.
Eric Newsom (Madison; Germantown) led off the bottom of the seventh with his first homer of the season. The round-tripper opened a five-run inning for the Wildcats.
After Nick Skaggs (Biloxi) scored on a Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) sacrifice fly, Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison) singled in Ewing to tie the game 5-5. McKay pushed PRCC ahead 6-5 in the next at-bat with a single to left that scored Bryson Ware (Gluckstadt; Germantown).
McKay led the way at the plate for PRCC, going 3-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and one double.
"Britt has grown up and matured so much as a hitter lately," Avalon said. "It is exciting to see him have that kind of performance. He's a really good hitter who sees the game well."
Newsom and Donaldson also went 2-for-4.
Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion), Evan Bynum (Soso; West Jones), Landon Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise), Shelby Terrell (Foxworth; West Marion) and Kole Alford (McComb; North Pike) all pitched for the Wildcats.
Gartman and Terrell each struck out three, with the latter earning the win after throwing three perfect innings in relief. Alford earned his first save of the season with a clean ninth.
"Both those guys are guys we count on in the pen," Avalon said of Terrell and Alford. "Shelby comes in and throws strikes every time on the mound.
"And then Kole, that was the Kole we've all come to know and love."
The highlight of the game came in the fifth inning when Ewing tracked a ball all the way from his starting spot in left field toward the foul line and made a fully-extended diving grab, popping up with the ball in his glove.
"It was just instincts. I was just taking off toward the ball and ended up catching it. I was going to dive — so I was going to either catch it or miss it," Ewing said. "I gave it everything I had because that was a big point in the game."
GAME 2: PRCC 10, BRCC 0 (6 INN.)
All of Pearl River's runs in Game 2 came in two innings.
The Wildcats and Bears were deadlocked in a pitcher's duel early in the contest, with both starters putting up zeros through two innings.
Pearl River broke through with a three run third.
Skaggs opened the scoring when he crossed home thanks to a groundout from Ware. Donaldson singled in Ware and then Woodcock hit a double that plated Donaldson.
Pearl River cleaned up in the sixth inning, plating seven runs. Bases loaded walks by McKay and Skaggs plated the first two runs of the inning. A sacrifice fly from Ewing extended PRCC's lead to 6-0.
Ware followed it up with a two-run triple and then Donaldson ended the ballgame early with a two-run homer that traveled just to the right of the scoreboard in right-center.
"As soon as I hit it I thought it was gone," Donaldson said. "He told me before the at-bat to try to hit a home run here to end it — but if I do hit one, not to jog like the last time so I sped around the bases."
"Kasey has the flare for the dramatic," added Avalon. "We're glad Kasey plays for us. He's seeing it pretty well."
Ware and Donaldson each led PRCC with three RBIs. Donaldson and Ewing led the Wildcats with two hits apiece.
Jacob Scherer (Mandeville, La.; St. Paul's) was locked in for his second straight start. The right-hander threw five scoreless innings, striking out three against one walk and one hit.
"It was fun to come out here and pitch in my first home game. I was pretty locked in, especially playing a team from Louisiana, which is where I'm from," Scherer said. "Pretty much everything was working for me today. My mechanics probably could have been a little better, but that was about it."
Newsom pitched 2/3 of an inning, while Reid Golemon (Moselle; South Jones) recorded the final out for PRCC in the top of the sixth.
"I thought Newsom threw well at the end, just caught a little bad luck," Avalon said, "and then Reid came into a pressure situation and made pitches, which is what he does."
The Wildcats hit the road Wednesday for a 4 p.m. doubleheader at Nunez. PRCC returns to The Dub on Sunday to host Illinois Central. The doubleheader is set for a noon start.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events are broadcast on PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store. Conference games can also be heard on WRJW 1320 AM, WRJWRadio.com or by downloading the WRJW app.