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No. 3 Pearl River excited to host Region 23 Tournament

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River baseball program has accomplished many things since Michael Avalon has been at the helm. That trend will continue on Monday when it hosts the Region 23 Tournament at Dub Herring Park for the first time since 2013; PRCC won the league championship in 2018 but due to hosting rotation, the Region 23 Tournament was played at LSU Eunice.

“I think it is a true honor for our players, fans, and all of the people who make ‘The Dub’ such a special place,” Avalon said. “We wanted to host a regional, and here we are. It all culminates on Monday when we get a chance to play at 7 p.m. in our own regional.”

After the completion of the best-of-three series last weekend, the opening round of the tournament has been decided. It will feature five nationally ranked teams, making it one of the toughest regionals in the country.

3-seed LSU Eunice (42-5), who is ranked No. 2 nationally, will match up with 4-seed No. 18 East Central (27-15) at noon on Monday. The 2-seed No. 8 Meridian (31-11) will open the tournament against the 5-seed No. 16 Itawamba (25-13) at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. As the host of the tournament, Pearl River will compete with Hinds at 7 p.m. Monday night.

Scores, an updated bracket, tournament information, photos, streaming options and more will be located at PRCCAthletics.com/Region23.

FAMILIAR FOE

The Eagles and Wildcats are no strangers to each other, playing three times this season. The last of the meetings came just 14 days ago. While Pearl River was victorious in the previous matchups — winning 13-4, 13-1 and 6-1 — it will not take Hinds lightly.

“We know a lot about them, and they know a lot about us,” Avalon said. “They are as talented as anyone else in our conference. They’ve also got a little extra to play for with their coach moving on. We’ve got to continue what we do well. We’ve got to pitch well. We’ve got to defend well and continue to find ways to score runs.”

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Pearl River enters the tournament boasting one of the nation’s top offensive units. The Wildcats are ranked third nationally in long balls (87), fifth in slugging percentage (.600) and 14th in extra-base hits (169).

The offensive attack is led by Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison), who leads the team in most statistical categories.  Parker leads in batting average (.394), slugging percentage (.854), hits (57), home runs (17) and RBIs (63).

PRCC’s lineup features three more players with 10 or more homers. Graham Crawford (Sumrall) and Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) have mashed 14 while Von Seibert (Mobile, Ala.; Daphne) has crushed 10.

The pitching staff has been equally as dominant, coming in at seventh in the country with a collective 3.90 ERA.

The rotation is led by Landon Gartman (Bogue Chitto; Enterprise) who has thrown 54 innings holding a 1.83 ERA. He has struck out 72 batters against just 17 walks.  Freshman Sam Hill (Soso; West Jones) holds a 2.97 ERA in 30 1/3 innings, striking out 32. Dakota Lee (Purvis) has been the most dominant arm out of the bullpen this season, striking out 45 batters in 29 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.12.

ABOUT THE DUB

The Dub has undergone a major makeover in recent years with a three-phase construction plan. PRCC added a new scoreboard beyond the right field wall prior to the 2018 season.

In the three years since, the Wildcats bulldozed the stands and constructed a press box with two luxury suites, added 400 chairback seats, and three canopies to protect fans from the Mississippi Heat and named the recently upgraded locker room and players lounge the Artigues Family Clubhouse. That space also includes hitting cages.

Adding to the vista in the last 12 months has been the completion of two new dorms beyond the right field wall.

ON THE MENU 

In addition to having a traditional concession stand at The Dub, PRCC has partnered with Colludium Brewing Company based out of Hattiesburg to provide a first-class dining experience for spectators. Colludium has built a special menu for the tournament that includes rosemary’s baby swiss burger, bacon beer cheeseburger, BBQ pork grilled cheese, French dip sandwich, 3 cheese grilled cheese, chili beer cheese dog, turkey & cheddar, loaded nachos, five different loaded fries, cauliflower lettuce wraps, side salad, chili and boiled peanuts.

HOW TO TUNE IN

All games of the regional will be livestreamed on PRCCMedia.com/Gold. You can also follow along on WRJWRadio.com.