No. 3 Pearl River earns dominant sweep of No. 20 Co-Lin

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, March 17, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 3 Pearl River baseball team looked like a different team Tuesday, sweeping No. 20 Copiah-Lincoln at Dub Herring Park. PRCC won Game 1 12-1 in five innings and then took the nightcap 11-2.

“We’re very proud of them. This team generally bounces back and that’s all you can ask of them, to keep learning,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “After the first inning of Game 1 we got it out of our system and were really good. We were as sharp as I’ve seen.”

The sweep gives PRCC nine straight wins over Co-Lin. 

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The Wolves (12-10 overall; 8-4 MACCC) opened the scoring in the first and were threatening to hang a crooked number on PRCC (17-5; 7-3) with a runner on third but the Wildcats’ Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison) and Dalton Cummins (Seminary) teamed up for a 4-6-3 double play to squash the threat.

The Wildcats, in turn, hung a four-spot on CLCC in the second to jump ahead 4-1.

Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) battled through seven pitches before clobbering the eighth over the right field wall to knot the game 1-1. Cummins came through with a big swing later in the frame, singling to center to score Woodcock and Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central). Nick Skaggs (Biloxi) doubled in PRCC’s fourth run.

Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison) smoked a pitch over the left-center wall to lead off the third inning, extending PRCC’s lead to 5-1.

Pearl River put the game on ice in the fifth, plating seven runs to end the game early. After Donaldson doubled in Parker and later scored on a wild pitch, Woodcock clobbered a pitch over the left field wall for a solo homer. A Skaggs single through the right side plated PRCC’s fourth run of the frame.

Graham Crawford (Sumrall) ended the game one batter later when he hit a moon shot off the scoreboard for a three-run homer.

Donaldson led PRCC with a 3-for-3 day, a triple shy of the cycle. 

“I just put together some quality at-bats,” Donaldson said. “I was down early in the first two at-bats and worked into good counts and made the pitcher mess up.

“I think the biggest thing was being mentally tough.”

Parker and Skaggs, who was moved to the leadoff spot, both finished with two hits. 

“What a day for him,” Avalon said of Skaggs. “That’s what we’ve been missing — a spark plug up top. Hopefully we have found our leadoff guy.”

Sam Hill (Soso; West Jones) turned in a gem for Pearl River, going the distance. In five innings, Hill surrendered one unearned run on three hits while striking out four.

“He’s going to get better. That’s the sign of a really good pitcher,” Avalon said. “He doesn’t always have his best stuff but the sky is the limit for that kid. Every time out that dude has battled and given us a chance to win the ball game.” 

Izzio turned in a web gem to help out starter Landon Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise) in the first. With two runners in scoring position the Wolves lined a shot down the third base line. Izzio lunged to his right and stabbed the ball. Gartman induced a weak fly out from the next batter to end the threat.

Co-Lin was threatening in the fourth, working a runner to second, but Gartman clamped down to get a big strikeout to strand the Wolves’ base runner.

The Wildcats finally broke through in the fifth inning.

Skaggs lined a single up the middle with the bases loaded to score the game’s first run. Following a deep fly from Crawford that doubled PRCC’s lead, Parker put a dent in the left field wall for a two-run double and a 4-0 lead.

The Wildcats weren’t content with four runs. Donaldson singled to the right side, plating a run. After Von Seibert (Daphne, Ala.) scored on a wild pitch, Woodcock doubled down the third base line to score PRCC’s seventh run. Matt Mercer (Petal) delivered an RBI-single and then Izzio doubled him in for a 9-0 lead.

A pair of Co-Lin homers in the sixth snapped PRCC’s shutout bid.

In the bottom of the sixth, Banks Hyde (Columbus; Heritage Academy) laced a ball to right field. The Wolves’ outfielder dropped the ball and then sailed it over the PRCC dugout, allowing two runs to cross home for an 11-2 lead.

PRCC ended up with 10 hits despite not recording one until the fifth. Mercer and Izzio led PRCC with two each. 

Gartman was locked in once again, tossing five shutout frames. The Memphis signee struck out four against three hits and one walk. Dawson Strong (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) surrendered two runs in 2/3 of an inning before giving way to Eric Newsom (Madison; Germantown).

Newsom struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

“That’s a quality offensive team,” Avalon said. “For us to do what we did today, hats off to our pitchers.”

Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise) picked up his third MACCC Pitcher of the Week honor on Tuesday. Gartman struck out a career-high 11 batters in a no-decision against Gulf Coast; PRCC won 2-1 in 10 innings. 

The Wildcats hit the road Saturday for a league showdown at East Mississippi. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.