By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
Pearl River Central captured the Division 8-5A prep baseball regular season championship Friday night.
The homestanding Blue Devils knocked off arch-rival Picayune 4-3 in eight innings to win the crown. It's just the second regular season league title in history for PRC, and first in seven years since 2006.
Christian Smith's RBI-single in the bottom of the extra frame scored pinch-runner Jeshua Lee with the winning run.
"I told them this was like a playoff game, and every pitch counts" PRC head coach Neil Walther said. "Even though we didn't get a lot of hits, we put the ball in play and we put pressure on them. We only struck out five times, so we made them make plays and took advantage of it when they didn't."
Picayune actually took a 2-0 lead in the fourth frame, thanks in part to a double by Jacob Taylor and and RBI-single by Terrance- Freeman.
But The Blue Devils bounced back to take a 3-2 lead with three unearned runs in the fifth thanks to four Maroon Tide errors. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on a ground ball by Caleb Morales that resulted in a throwing error by Picayune.
Picayune fought back with a run in the top of the seventh to tie the game up, though, as Taylor singled and drove in Mark Wood.
The Blue Devils pulled out the win when Jake Scheuerman led off the bottom of the eighth getting hit by a pitch, and Wade Manning sacrificed pinch runner Lee to second. Cody Lee was intentionally walked and the Smith delivered the game winning blow.
Dylan Spiers picked up the win, moving to a perfect 8-0 with the complete game effort. He struck out eight and allowed five hits. Spiers also had two hits at the plate for PRC.
Wood took the loss in relief of Taylor, after replacing him in the seventh stanza. Picayune commited six errors in the game.
PRC moved to 10-3 in league play and 15-5 overall. Picayune is 7-6 in league play and 9-13 overall.
The decision gives PRC a bye in the first round of the Class 5A South State playoffs. Meanwhile, second seeded Picayune will face Moss Point in the opening round of the postseason.
The two teams will play again in Picayune on Tuesday night, but before that the Maroon Tide will host Hattiesburg and Columbia in a tourney today beginning at 11 a.m.