POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 6 Pearl River provided the thunder and Mother Nature supplied the lightning Friday as the Wildcats belted four homers en route to a convincing sweep of Holmes at Dub Herring Park. The Wildcats used a seven-run first to run rule HCC 10-0 in Game 1. PRCC didn't let up in the nightcap, plating 13 runs in an inning to rout the Bulldogs 16-3.
"I thought we played well on both sides of the baseball. They helped us and we took what they gave us," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "We had 11 walks in Game 2, which is something our offense has to learn to do — not be overly aggressive and take what they give us. If we make pitchers make pitches good things happen."
The sweep was Pearl River's third straight over the Bulldogs.
The doubleheader was halted early in the second game due to lightning in the area.
GAME 1: PRCC 10, HCC 0 (5 inn.)
Pearl River (29-8 overall, 14-6 MACJC) batted around in the first, plating seven runs — including six before Holmes registered the first out. Wiley Cleland (Columbia; Columbia Academy) opened the scoring with a three-nothing blast over the left field wall. Three batters later Dexter Jordan (Hattiesburg) blasted his team-high 11thhomer of the year for another three-run shot. Matt Taylor (Raleigh) tacked on another run with a triple to right field that scored Reis Trager (Hurley; East Central).
Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) got in on the long ball action, leading off the second inning with a solo homer.
Cleland doubled through the left side, scoring Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) from second to tack on a run in the third.
Noah Barron (Hoover, Ala.) led off the bottom of the fourth with a double off the right field wall and came around to score on a passed ball, extending PRCC's lead to 10-0.
Cleland and Donaldson led PRCC with two hits apiece. Cleland had a team-high four RBIs while Jordan drove in three. Izzio also walked twice.
"You're starting to see these guys mature and understand that we have strength and power so we don't have to generate that," Avalon said. "When we square balls up, good things happen."
Shemar Page (Raleigh) was dialed in from his opening pitch, striking out the first four batters he faced. Page ended up throwing a complete game shutout in the abbreviated contest, striking out eight against three hits and one walk.
"Shemar did an incredible job in Game 1. In those conditions, with rain pelting you in the face and 20 mile an hour winds coming right at you, for you to throw strikes that's a credit to his toughness," Avalon said. "I think what you saw different from Shamar today versus the last couple of outings is he got ahead and he was able to throw his breaking ball for a strike. When he's able to do that, he's really good."
GAME 2: PRCC 16, HCC 3 (5 inn.)
Taylor led off the second game with a triple past a diving HCC (25-14, 8-14) right fielder and easily scored on an Izzio ground out. Magruder O'Bannon (Gulfport; St. Stanislaus) doubled PRCC's lead with a single to right that scored Page. O'Bannon came around to score on a wild pitch, pushing PRCC's lead to 3-0.
The Bulldogs tied the game up in the third, plating three runs.
The tie didn't last long. The Wildcats broke the game open in the fourth, piling up 10 walks, a hit-by-pitch, single and Jordan grand slam.
"Dexter had a really good day," Avalon said of his second baseman, who was 2-for-6 with seven RBIs and two runs scored in the doubleheader. "We have seen him come up in that last situation and try to do too much and miss the baseball. Today he put a really good swing on it and you saw what happened."
Every starter reached base safely in Game 2. Barron was the only Wildcat with multiple hits, however Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy), Donaldson and Cleland all walked twice. Jordan led PRCC with four RBIs. Barron drove in three runs.
Colin Danley (Lucedale; East Central) earned the win, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk. He also struck out five in four innings. Jerod Meggs (Kosciusko) closed the door on Holmes, striking out two against one walk in one inning.
The Wildcats recently announced plans to host the inaugural Alumni Day on April 27 prior to the team's 2 p.m. doubleheader against Coahoma at Dub Herring Park. Any former Wildcats who are interested in participating in the festivities — which include a brunch, home run derby, tour of new facilities, crawfish lunch and tickets to the games — are asked to register at PRCCBaseballCamps.com.
Pearl River will continue its lengthy homestand to conclude the regular season with a 3 p.m. doubleheader against Hinds on Wednesday. PRCC hosts Coahoma at 2 p.m. April 27, Jones College at 3 p.m. April 30 and Northwest at 2 p.m. May 3.