Wildcats sweep Bulldogs

            PERKINSTON — Ninth-ranked Pearl River swept arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast in MACJC South Division doubleheader baseball action here Saturday, taking a 7-4 come-from-behind win in the first game before bombarding the host Bulldogs 11-1 in six innings in the nightcap.
            The Wildcats improved to 30-10 overall and 13-5 in division play — tied with Jones County for the division lead — while the Bulldogs dropped to 20-16 and 7-9.
            In the first game, first baseman Nathan Pugh out of Starkville High belted two homers, including a grand slam in the top of the fifth, to propel The River to victory.
            PRCC went up 1-0 in the top of the first when Braxton Lee of Picayune High singled, stole second and third, and scored off a single to center by Darius Knight of Pearl High.
            In the bottom of the inning, Gulf Coast tied it up. Lead off Taylor Hardy was walked by starter Christian Talley, a Southern Miss signee who prepped at Hancock County High, stole second a strikeout later, and wound up on third off Michael Gilbert’s ground out. Hardy scored on a passed ball before Ryne Long singled and Talley retired Chris Burdette to end the inning.
            After a scoreless second, the Bulldogs took the lead in the bottom of the third with a one-out solo home run by Kyle Clement; while The River tied it up in the top of fourth off Pugh’s first homer, a one-out belt over the right field wall.
            In the bottom of the frame, the home run derby continued when lead off Tyler Quave smashed the game’s third dinger over the right center field wall to make it 3-2 Gulf Coast. Blake Lawson followed with a line-drive single to center, moved to second off Zac Haarala’s sac bunt, and scored an out later when Tayler Hardy reached on an error for the Bulldogs’ fourth run. Clement grounded out to second to end the inning.
            In the top of the fifth, Darien Brown of Hattiesburg High and Lee led off with back-to-back base hits, moved to second and third on a passed ball, and Brown scored off Knight’s sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-3.
 
            After Paul Pickerrell out of John Hardin High in Elizabethtown, Ky., walked, starter Cameron Coleman exited the mound for Jason McDonald, who immediately walked Krisjon Wilkerson out of St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis to load the bases before striking Forrest Dungan of Columbia High. Pugh followed with his grand slammer to make it 7-4 for the game’s final runs before Joe Kirkland of Moss Point High grounded out.
            After MGCCC went three up, three down in the bottom of the frame, Koby Ross relieved McDonald to start the scoreless sixth. Talley struck out three straight to end the inning.
            Ryne Long relieved in the seventh, giving up a lead off single to Knight before  Pickerrell hit into a double play. Wilkerson followed with a double down the third base line and Dungan and Pugh drew back-to-back walks to load the bases only to see Kirkland fly to center for the final out.
            Talley duplicated his sixth-inning effort struck out three straight to end the game.
            Talley (6-4) picked up the win in going the distance, giving up eight hits, striking out nine, and walking one; while Cochran (5-1) got the loss in his four-and-a-third on the mound. He gave up five hits, struck out two, and walked three; while McDonald pitched two-thirds of an inning in the fifth, giving up a hit, striking out one, and walking one. Ross pitched the sixth, striking out one; while Long pitched the seventh, giving up two hits and walking two.
            Pugh paced the Wildcats’ eight-hit attack with two home runs and five RBIs, while Knight (two RBIs) and Lee had two singles each. Wilkerson doubled and Kirkland had a base hit.
            Quave led Gulf Coast at the plate with a homer and a double (one RBI), while Clement homered (one RBI) and Gilbert, Blake Lawson, and Long all had base hits.
            Both teams committed one error each in the game.
            In the nightcap contest, it was all Pearl River, which scored two in the top of the first, six in the second and two in the third for a 10-0 lead before Gulf Coast scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the frame.
            The fourth and fifth went scoreless with the Wildcats added the game’s final run in the top of the sixth. After the Bulldogs zilched in the bottom of the inning, the game ended via the 10-run rule.
            Starter Brandon Fry (5-0) out of Nease High in Jacksonville, Fla., got the win in his three-and-a-third innings on the mound, giving up a hit, striking out two, and walking four. Cameron Reynolds of Gulfport High relieved in the fourth, giving up two hits and recording a strikeout.
            All told, Gulf Coast used seven pitchers in the contest who accounted for nine base on balls. Starter Stuart Holmes (3-2) got the loss in his one inning on the mound, giving up two hits; while Chris Wease followed, giving up two hits, striking out one, and walking three. Kyle Cumlander, one hit, one walk; Jason Laxer, one hit, one strikeout, three walks, and Ryan Henry, one hit, one strikeout, one walk; all relieved in the third. Henry went one-and-two-thirds before Jared Gates relieved in the fifth, walking one. Koby Ross pitched two-thirds of the sixth, giving up a hit and striking out two; while Jordan Mata got the Wildcats final out.
            Knight paced The River’s eight-hit effort with a triple, a double, and a single (four RBIs); while Kollin Cannon out of St. Stanislaus had two singles (two RBIs), Pugh doubled (one RBI), and Dungan (one RBI) and Ivan Garcia of Katy (Tex.) High both had base hits. Wilkerson and Pickerrell also had RBIs for the Wildcats.
            Gulf Coast finished with three hits with Clement doubling (one RBI) and Gilbert and Quave with base hits.
            PRCC committed one error in the game to MGCCC’s none.
            The Wildcats and Bulldogs split an earlier doubleheader played March 20 in Poplarville with Pearl River winning the first game 8-6 before Gulf Coast was a 13-3 winner in the nightcap.
            The River returns to action when South Division foe Hinds visits Wildcat Stadium Wednesday for a 4 p.m. doubleheader before traveling to 17th-ranked Jones County in Ellisville Tuesday, April 23 for a 4 p.m. twin bill. PRCC then wraps its regular season Saturday, April 27, with a road trip to Southwest Mississippi in Summit for a 1 p.m. division doubleheader.
            The top four finishers in the North and South divisions earned berths in four MACJC playoff series. North No. 1 hosts South No. 4, North No. 2 hosts South No. 3; South No. 1 hosts North No. 2, and South No. 2 hosts North No. 3 in the best-of-three match ups set for May 3-4.
            The four winners of the playoff match ups earn berths in the MACJC State Tournament set May 10-12.
            Through Satuday’s action, Pearl River and Jones lead the South with 13-5 records; while East Central is 12-6, and Gulf Coast 7-9.
            In the North, Mississippi Delta is first at 10-4, followed by Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Mississippi at 11-5 and Itawamba at 7-7. Holmes is still in the hunt at 6-8.

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