POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 4 Pearl River continued their winning ways at home on Sunday, sweeping Illinois Central in both ends of their doubleheader at Dub Herring Park. PRCC had to scrap back to top the Cougars 5-4 in 10 innings in Game 1 before dispatching ICC 9-3 in Game 2.
"I don't think we played our best baseball today but I give a lot of credit to the team we played," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "Those guys have played six games in three days. I told our guys before the game, don't play their record because they're a much better ball club than that. They were in every game they played.
"I was proud in Game 2 how we came out and took control, especially after winning the way we did in Game 1. We just have to play better."
Prior to today's doubleheader, @coachavie called in the flamethrower from the pen to throw out the first pitch. Coach Chris Oney shook off the first signal before delivering a STRIKE!— PRCC Athletics (@PRCCAthletics) March 1, 2020
��️ #HearOurROAR pic.twitter.com/lkKvwo0buo
GAME 1: Pearl River 5, Illinois Central 4 (10 inn.)
The Cougars (1-10 overall) took an early 2-0 lead in the second on a one-out single to center field.
"Crawford has a tough play up against the wall and bangs himself up really good. But he wanted to play and steps in there to hit a big home run. That's the kind of toughness we talk about," Avalon said. "As for Nick, he has come on so much this spring and really matured. He can do a lot of things for us."
The Cougars tied the game in the fifth on a single through the left side that scored a runner from third.
ICC scored its second run of the inning one batter later on a hit up the middle that ricocheted off relief pitcher Evan Bynum (Soso; West Jones).
The Wildcats manufactured the tying run in the ninth. After Crawford was hit to open the frame, pinch runner Kris Jones (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) was bunted to second and took third on a passed ball. The freshman outfielder came around to score the tying run on a Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) groundout.
The Cougars threatened to retake the lead in the 10th, but Kole Alford (McComb; North Pike) struck out back to back batters to keep the game tied.
"I knew I had to step it up and couldn't let them score or else it was going to be ballgame and it was going to be my fault," Alford said. "I wasn't about to let that happen. I had to step it up."
The Wildcats battled in the 10th to get the go-ahead run. Dalton Cummins (Seminary) hit a one-out single to left and took third when Michael Wein (Alpharetta; King's Ridge Christian) singled to left. After Britt McKay (Wiggins; Ocean Springs) drew a walk to load the bases, Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison) sent a ball to left field. Cummins tagged at third and although the ball possibly beat the third baseman home, the catcher couldn't control the ball, allowing the Wildcat to score.
"I didn't know if I hit it deep enough, but I knew Coach (Slater) Lott was going to give him a chance in a tie ballgame against a solid team," Woodcock said. "I had a lot of confidence going to the plate. I had been struggling but I told the guys I was going to win it for them right there."
With the exciting finish, the PRCC dugout cleared to circle Woodcock at first base.
Cummins led the Wildcats in the game with two hits. He also walked twice, as did Crawford.
Jacob Scherer (Mandeville, La.; St. Paul's) started the game, allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks while also striking out four in four innings.
Bynum pitched a scoreless inning and Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion) tossed two more zeroes.
Alford earned the win, throwing three scoreless frames, striking out six.
"He's a guy who's in the back end for us, but when asked to extend him a little bit right there he wanted the baseball," Avalon said. "He picked us up in a big situation.
"He's a guy that there's no question Kole Alford wants the baseball."
GAME 2: Pearl River 9, Illinois Central 3
The Cougars once again struck first in Game 2, plating a run in the first on a wild pitch.
The Wildcats didn't waste any time responding as Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) blasted a three-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the first before PRCC recorded its first out.
The Wildcats tacked on a run in the second on an Ewing sac fly that scored Woodcock.
After ICC plated two runs in the top of the third, the Wildcats quickly answered with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning.
PRCC plated the first two runs of the inning on bases-loaded walks from Erik Newsom (Madison; Germantown) and Kris Riley (Laurel; West Jones) and capped the inning with a Skaggs sacrifice fly that scored McKay.
The Wildcats tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth. Skaggs scored from third on an errant pickoff throw from the ICC pitcher. Ewing then scored on a deep sacrifice fly from Ware.
Donaldson led Pearl River at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Ewing also tallied two hits and scored twice.
Avalon said one of the positives from the doubleheader was the amount of pitchers who got work. Landon Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise) started the game. The freshman allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks while also striking out three in 2 1/3 innings. Shelby Terrell (Foxworth; West Marion) threw 2 2/3 innings in relief, striking out one. Landon Harper (Lauderdale; Northeast Lauderdale) and Reid Golemon (Moselle; South Jones) pitched the final two innings, striking out two apiece.
Pearl River returns to the diamond Tuesday with a home doubleheader against Coastal Alabama-East. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Dub Herring Park.
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.