PRC pushes past Poplarville

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, March 22, 2007

While Mike Lehmann may be considered the most notable pitcher on the Pearl River Central staff, he’s not the one that’s unbeaten half-way through Division 8-4A play.

That would be Paul Dillard.

The junior pitcher ran his mark to a perfect 5-0 Tuesday, pitching PRC past homestanding Poplarville 5-3 in league play.

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The win moves the defending division champions to 9-3 overall and 5-2 in league play, while Poplarville, which dropped its fifth straight league game, stands 6-8 overall and 2-5 in the division.

Dillard went six innings, striking out four and scattering three hits in the effort.

“He didn’t get off to a great start, but he battled through it and that was good to see him do,” PRC head coach Greg Lewis said. “He battled through what he had to do early, and then got on track and was pretty good after that.”

Lehmann actually gave his teammate a quick 1-0 lead, driving in Ram Miller on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first.

The Hornets responded quickly as well, plating three runs off Dillard in the bottom of the frame.

Dillard walked two Hornet batters and Thatcher Lee doubled in the frame for Poplarville, but Seth Carver had the big blow as his two out bases-loaded triple down the right field line cleared the sacks and put the Hornets up 3-1.

But Dillard settled down after the shaky start, and retired 11 batters in a row before allowing another hit in the fifth inning.

“We’d scored a bunch of runs for him in a couple of games, so it was good to see him overcome getting behind and get back in the groove,” Lewis said.

The Blue Devils re-took the lead with three runs in the top of the third.

Heath Graham drove in a run in the frame, while PRC also scored on a Hornet error and a passed ball.

The inning wasn’t without its controversy though, when Poplarville had apparently pulled off an inning ending double play still with a 3-1 lead. However, the home plate umpire, after the play was over, indicated a balk had been called on Poplarville pitcher Ashley Graeter and PRC went on to score the trio of runs.

Lehmann gave his team a little insurance in the sixth, when he blasted his third home run of the year, a line drive shot to dead center field.

“That was a big run, because Graeter was pitching well,” Lewis added. “We needed that one.”

Miller had two hits for the Blue Devils, while Lehmann had the pair of RBI’s.

Grater allowed just five hits and struck out five in taking the loss and falling to 1-2.

For Poplarville, Lance Strehan had a pair of hits.

The two teams will meet again on Friday, as Poplarville travels to PRC.