No. 7 Pearl River leaves little doubt in Top 10 sweep

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 6, 2021

SENATOBIA, Miss. — One night earlier, the No. 7 Pearl River Wildcats looked as if they might be at an early-season crossroads after stumbling at East Central. 

Instead of moping when they got off the bus in Senatobia on Thursday, the Wildcats looked loose. It turns out, they were. Their revitalized spirits set the tone in the Top 10 showdown at Northwest as the Wildcats swept the Rangers 9-0 and 12-0.

“I’m proud of them after yesterday. They answered the call,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “I can’t say enough about the pitching, offense, everything. You do that at a place like this against a group like that that’s a quality team, that’s pretty impressive.

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“We were totally different than yesterday. There was no reason for that except for the fact they grew up and matured.” 

New starter D.K. Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) helped get the scoring started in the fourth with a sacrifice fly that was deep enough to allow new Mississippi State commit Von Seibert (Mobile, Ala.; Daphne) to score.

Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) doubled PRCC’s lead in the fifth with a solo homer over the right field wall for his fifth round tripper of the season.

“He left me a fastball up, I put a short swing on it and it happened to get out of here,” Donaldson said.

The next inning, Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison) tacked on another run for PRCC (12-4 overall; 2-2 MACCC) on a groundout to give the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage.

Graham Crawford (Hattiesburg; Sumrall) smashed a two-run homer in the top of the eighth and in the very next at-bat Dalton Cummins (Seminary) hit his first homer of the season, extending PRCC’s lead to 6-0.

“That was great. They had been feeding me a bunch of curveballs and offspeed. I sat on one, got one to hit and put a good swing on it,” Cummins said.

A deep fly from Cummins in the ninth allowed Parker to score easily for PRCC’s seventh run of the game.

Later in the inning Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison) drove a ball to right-center for a two-run single.

The Wildcats combined for eight hits with Woodcock the only player registering multiple base hits with two. Crawford, Cummins and Woodcock each drove in two runs with Seibert scoring a team-high three times.

Landon Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise) was masterful on the mound for the Wildcats. In a career-long seven innings, Gartman struck out a career-high seven batters while surrendering just five hits and two walks. The win moves Gartman to a team-leading 3-0 record on the year.

“My fastball was really working for me,” Gartman said.

Reid Reynolds (Heidelberg; Northeast Jones) and Dawson Strong (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) split the final two innings, each striking out one batter. 

The Wildcats didn’t waste any time scoring in the nightcap against NWCC (8-6; 2-2) as Crawford singled in Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) from second in the top of the first for an early 1-0 lead.

A hustle play from Parker doubled PRCC’s lead to 2-0 in the third. With Woodcock standing at third, Parker singled to the left side and narrowly beat the throw, allowing the Wildcats to plate their second run.

The Wildcats tripled their lead in the fourth. 

Kasey Donaldson hit his second solo homer of the day to get things started in the frame. Cummins, Izzio and Parker each later singled in runs to give PRCC a 6-0 advantage.

PRCC tacked on six more in the seventh as things went sideways for the Rangers,

The Wildcats plated their first run of the inning on a NWCC error. After Izzio worked a bases-loaded walk to plate PRCC’s eighth run the Wildcats scored four more runs on a pair of Northwest errors to extend their lead to 12-0.

Parker led PRCC in Game 2 with two hits. Crawford drove in a team-high four runs in the game. Izzio scored three times.

Jacob Scherer (Mandeville, La.; St. Paul’s) was dialed in for the second straight start. The right-hander struck out four against two walks and one hit in five innings

“I just came in knowing I needed to throw strikes and compete on the mound,” he said. “I’ve been working on trying to fill out the zone and got a lot of ground outs and flyouts. That’s really all I wanted to do, give our defense a chance to make some plays.”

Landon Harper (Lauderdale; Northeast Lauderdale) closed out the game by fanning five of the six batters he faced.

The Wildcats return to the diamond Wednesday when they host Gulf Coast for a 3 p.m. first pitch.