Schlottmann walk-off single pushes PRC over Tide in 8th inning, 5-4

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

Even though the rivalry bout on Tuesday between Pearl River Central and Picayune was sprinkled with controversy, before the game, both coaches could agree on one thing, every game in the Region 7-5A District will be close, and Tuesday night supported that prediction.

The Blue Devils found themselves down early in the game by multiple runs. However, PRC hung with the Tide, eventually forcing extra innings and squeezing out another victory to stay on top of district standings after Tristan Schlottmann slotted a walk-off single in the 8th inning to bring home teammate Eli Lee, beating Picayune 5-4.

“This is a very competitive district. If you think about it, we are one play away in each game to being 1-4 in the district, and I don’t know about the other teams, but I am sure it is the same way with everyone,” PRC Head Coach Neil Walther said.

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To begin Tuesday’s rivalry game, each pitcher, Tyler Fletcher for Picayune and Rigell Robinson for PRC, took a couple of innings to feel out the opposing teams until Jacob Brumley stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and two outs for the Tide.  Brumley hit a dancing pitch down the four hole to allow the runners from first and second bases to find home, putting the away team up 2-0 in the top of the 3rd inning.

After four innings, Picayune made a pitcher change, substituting Fletcher for senior Trenton Lee.

In his first series against Blue Devils’ Zach Roussell, Lee threw a pitch in the dirt, which got away from his catcher and resulted in the first PRC run of the night.

Even with PRC breathing down Picayune’s neck, Fletcher placed a perfect bunt down the first base line to not only bring home a run, but also landed himself safely on first, which began a short rally for the Tide.

In the very next series, Lee hit an RBI single on the first pitch he saw, giving Picayune a 4-1 lead with no outs in the top of the 5th inning.

However, Devils’ pitcher Robinson began to find his form, forcing the next batter to ground out and following that with two strike outs to end the Tide’s rally. He captained the mound for the Blue Devils the entire game, giving up only five hits, two of which came in extra innings, and finished with an 0.88 ERA, seven strikeouts, one earned run, one walk and earned the win for the Blue Devils.

“Rigell was an absolute warrior tonight,” Walther said. “He didn’t have the defense playing well behind him and the offense was not giving him a lot of support either, but he was positive and made pitches when he needed to.”

During the 5th inning, both dugouts became enraged by the officiating due to controversial calls that affected each team negatively, especially in the remaining innings.

“The umpire was giving some space on the edges of the zone during most of the game. But you got to give it to Picayune because their pitchers recognized it and took advantage of the situation,” Walther said.

Despite the controversial calls, PRC managed to turn the game around when Austen Izzio and Lee connected on back-to-back RBI doubles to tighten the game 4-3 going into the final two innings.

The game plateaued until Blue Devils slugger Hayden Dunhurst stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning. Dunhurst recognized a pitch left up in the zone and cranked the ball deep center field, inches away from the fence. However, after one runner successfully made it to home plate from third, center fielder Shaun Anderson dove backwards to catch the ball and roped a throw into the infield to get the potential go-ahead runner out at home.

In extra innings, both teams had a crack at walking off the field victorious, and after Picayune’s attempt, Blue Devils’ Schlottmann dialed in on a successful walk-off single, making it safe on first base by a matter of inches and bringing home Cade Lee, who was waiting on third, to win 5-4.

PRC will travel to Picayune on Friday at 5 p.m. to play in another diamond duel between the rivals.