No. 3 Pearl River, ‘Johnny Wholestaff’ top Hinds

Published 11:01 am Monday, May 3, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 3 Pearl River picked up a convincing 6-1 victory Friday in its final home game of the 2021 regular season. Aided by two homers and nine pitchers getting in work, the Wildcats only played one nine-inning game in an effort to get valuable experience ahead of the postseason.

The game, which was a non-conference game, was rescheduled from Feb. 12 due to inclement weather.

“Any time that you see a new arm every inning it’s tough for the hitter. The guys threw really well and we defended well.  That’s something that has been really important for us the whole year,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said.

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The victory gives PRCC (34-7 overall) a three-game sweep of Hinds (21-15) after the Wildcats swept the doubleheader at HCC earlier in the season, 13-4 and 13-1.

Eric Newsom (Madison; Germantown), who started on the mound and as the designated hitter, doubled in the first run of the game in the second for a 1-0 lead.

Hinds (21-15 overall) evened the score, 1-1, in the top of the third but it didn’t take long for PRCC to jump back ahead.

Following a Matt Mercer (Petal) double, Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison) hit his team-leading 16th homer of the season to catapult PRCC ahead 3-1.

“He’s seen it well all year and he’s a special player,” Avalon said. “You don’t get to coach those all the time. I’m thankful that I get to coach him this year.

“He’s special to coach, no question.”

Parker added to his home run lead in the fifth with a solo shot, extending PRCC’s advantage to 4-1.

Three batters later Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) crushed a ball over the right field wall for a solo homer and a 5-1 lead.

The home run gives Donaldson 32 in his PRCC career, one shy of Meaux Landry’s program record of 33.

John Griffin Bell (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) capped the scoring in the eighth when he scored on a wild pitch.

The Wildcats used a “Johnny Wholestaff” approach on the mound with nine pitchers each got an inning of work.

Newsom opened the game and struck out one. Both Landon Gartman (Enterprise; Bogue Chitto) and Jacob Scherer (Mandeville, La.; St. Paul’s) struck out two in the second and third innings respectively. Sam Hill (Soso; West Jones) struck out one in a scoreless inning and then Turner Swistak (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) pitched a scoreless fifth. Shelby Terrell (Foxworth; West Marion) struck out two and then Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion) struck out all three batters he faced.

Dakota Lee (Purvis) struck out two batters in a perfect eighth inning and then Landon Harper (Lauderdale; Northeast Lauderdale) struck out one in the ninth.

“Man, this pitching staff is amazing,” said catcher Graham Crawford (Sumrall). “Coach (Brandon) Pennington does a great job with them. They get after it every day and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Reid Reynolds (Heidelberg; Northeast Jones) joined his next-level counterparts this week when he verbally committed to Southeastern Louisiana. Other committed Wildcats are:

  • Newsom, Tennessee Tech
  • Nick Skaggs (Biloxi), South Alabama
  • Terrell, McNabb and Dalton Cummins (Seminary), Delta State
  • Von Seibert (Daphne, Ala.), Mississippi State
  • Harper, Southern Miss

Pearl River’s signed players are:

  • Crawford, Alabama
  • Parker and Donaldson, USA
  • Gartman, Memphis
  • Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Charleston Southern
  • Scherer, SLU

The Wildcats are still working on adding an out-of-state doubleheader prior to the Region 23 Tournament.

“We won the conference, which is a good thing, but the tough part about it is that we have a layoff,” Avalon said. “All of the other teams will be playing next weekend in a best-of-three. We are allowed an extra date out of state for that day. Hopefully, we will go to the Dallas area next weekend and play two games against a quality team.

“We’re just trying to work out the details.”

Once finalized, the schedule will be updated at

The Wildcats clinched hosting the Region 23 Tournament after securing the program’s fourth MACCC Championship last week. While many of the details are still being finalized, the dates of the tournament will be May 17-22 at The Dub. Pearl River and No. 1 LSU-Eunice receive byes into the tournament, but the rest of the field will not be completed until next week’s qualification playoffs.

Those best-of-three matchups are: No. 8 Meridian vs. Co-Lin, No. 16 Itawamba vs. Gulf Coast, No. 19 East Central vs. Northwest and Hinds vs. Jones College.

The entire tournament will be livestreamed at

For more details on the tournament, visit