No. 1 Pearl River thumps No. 9 Meridian, edges Copiah-Lincoln
Published 9:25 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023
WESSON, Miss. — The No. 1 Pearl River baseball team took to the road Tuesday evening to take on MACCC foes No. 9 Meridian and Copiah-Lincoln in an early-season non-conference matchup. The Wildcats thumped the Eagles 10-1 in the NJCAA top-10 matchup before using timely hitting to get past the Wolves, 10-7, in the nightcap.
“It was an extremely long day today with us playing 18 innings,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “I was really proud of the guys for battling through a long, long day. It’s going to make the bus ride home a lot better going back with two wins.”
The Wildcats were powered by a pair of great starting pitching performances from Cooper Cooksey (Waveland; Bay) and Cortez Dennis (Wiggins; Stone County) who combined for 11 1/3 innings pitched, two earned runs and 11 strikeouts on the day.
“We really needed this from those guys today,” Avalon said. “After going to extra innings against Pensacola State we needed two good starts. On our way home Saturday night, I challenged them both to give six innings. Both of them were really good today.”
PEARL RIVER 10, MERIDIAN 1.
Cooksey took the ball first for the Wildcats in an early-season top-10 matchup against Meridian and was just as steady as he has been all season. A leadoff single by the Eagles in the first inning didn’t affect him as he struck out the next two batters he faced and got the last one to ground out right back to the pitcher’s mound.
In the second, Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) single-handedly gave Cooksey some run support as he belted a 1-0 pitch over the centerfield wall for an early 1-0 lead.
A leadoff single, a walk and a double steal had Meridian in prime position to take the lead in the bottom of the second, but a heads-up play at third base from Perry kept them off the board. Perry fielded a hard-hit ball and caught the runner headed to the plate in a run down for an out. Cooksey induced a pair of flyouts into right field against the next two batters to put an end to the inning.
The Wildcats picked up a pair of insurance runs in the third inning, 3-0. Perry, Soper and Walters each walked to load the bases before a run crossed the plate on an error. The next run crossed after a passed ball by the MCC catcher. The Eagles got a run back in the bottom of the third with an RBI single, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Cooksey was on cruise control throughout the fourth and fifth inning, retiring six out of seven batters that he faced.
PRCC loaded the bases in the sixth off walks by Jonah Katsaboulas (Pearl; Brandon) and Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy) as well as an error off the bat of Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) and added a run after Perry grounded into a double play, 4-1.
Cooksey finished off his final inning of the day in the sixth by striking out one batter and getting a pair of Eagles to ground out.
PRCC went quietly in the top of the seventh and Blake Gollott (D’Iberville) took over on the mound in the bottom half of the frame. The freshman left-handed pitcher got the first two batters out before giving up back-to-back singles to the Eagles. With a runner standing on third base, Gollott’s pitch got away from Sute and the MCC runner took off for home plate. Sute picked up the loose ball and quickly flipped to Gollott to cut down the runner at the plate.
Six more runs crossed the plate for PRCC in the eighth, making it a 10-1 ballgame. Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) singled to begin the inning and was moved around to third on a Broadus single. Sute stepped to the plate and laced a ball into left field to drive in the first run. Perry followed suit by smacking a ball into left field to push across the next run. Walters drew an eight-pitch walk to reload the bases for Montz. Montz wasted no time in his at-bat, barreling the first pitch that he saw and sending it way over the right field wall for a grand slam.
Bobby Magee (Petal) tossed a quick ninth inning to slam the door for a 10-1 Wildcat victory,
Cooksey finished his outing with six innings pitched, striking out four batters and allowing four hits, two walks and one unearned run. Gollott pitched an inning and worked around two walks. Magee threw the final two innings, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one.
Montz led the way offensively, going 2-for-4 with five RBIs and two homers. Sute went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a team-high three walks. Perry rounded out those with multiple hits, picking up two. Perry also stole two bases.
PEARL RIVER 10, COPIAH-LINCOLN 7.
The Wildcats ran into trouble in the first inning of game two against Copiah-Lincoln (3-8). The Wolves walked to start things and followed it up with a double. A pair of Pearl River errors shortly after allowed three runs to score.
PRCC got two runs back in the second, 3-2. Montz drew a walk and advanced to third on a Breerwood single. Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy) then stepped up to the plate and drove in a run with a groundout. In the next at-bat, CLCC threw a wild pitch that gave Breerwood home plate.
Dennis worked around a leadoff single in the third inning by forcing two groundouts and striking out one batter. The momentum created by Dennis helped the Wildcats take the lead in the fourth inning. Walters went down 0-2 in his at-bat and fought back to draw a walk. He then advanced to second on a passed ball. Breerwood stepped to the dish and laced an RBI double into left field to bring him home. Ryan doubled on the sixth pitch of his at-bat to set up two runners in scoring position for Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul’s), who can normally be found on the mound. In just his second at-bat of the young season, the left-handed hitting Passeau laced a single into center field to collect two RBIs.
The Wolves led off the fifth with a single, but Dennis worked out of the jam thanks in part to a great defensive play by Ryan. After a Dennis strikeout, Ryan saw the runner get a little too far off the bag at second base and fired down to pick him off. Dennis promptly struck out the next batter and ended the frame.
The Wildcats added a sixth run in the sixth inning to go ahead 6-4. Passeau picked up a first-pitch single and then a Broadus double allowed him to score.
In the bottom half of the frame, Dennis ran into some trouble allowing one run to score and the tying run to reach scoring position. Pearl River opted to make a pitching change, bringing in the right-handed hometown product Jordan Belsome (Poplarville). The sidewinder didn’t let the moment get to him as he quickly picked up two massive strikeouts to end the inning.
The Wolves scored a run in each of the seventh and eighth innings to tie things up, 7-7.
Clutch hitting was the story of PRCC’s ninth inning. With one out, Soper drew a walk which was followed up by a Walters double. The first two pitches to Montz were balls, forcing CLCC to intentionally walk him. Luckily for the Wildcats, Ryan was up to the challenge when he stepped to the dish with two outs. The redshirt freshman catcher worked his way to a 3-1 count before blasting a bases-clearing double off the center field wall to give Pearl River a 10-7 lead.
Landen Payne (Ocean Springs; St. Martin) pitched a quick bottom half of the frame and sent PRCC home with a victory.
Dennis pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, two walks, five runs and two earned runs. He struck out seven batters. Belsome pitched 2/3 of an inning, striking out both batters he faced. JT Schnoor (Pascagoula; Resurrection) tossed 1 2/3 innings, allowing one hit, two runs, two walks and picking up one strikeout. Payne pitched 1 1/3 of an inning, striking out three Wolves against one walk.
Ryan led the charge offensively, finishing 2-for-5 with four RBIs, two doubles and one run. Passeau also went 2-for-5 and drove in two runs. Breerwood rounded out those with a multi-hit day, finishing 2-for-5 with one RBI.
Pearl River makes its return to Dub Herring Park on Saturday as Illinois Central makes the trip to Poplarville. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
Season and single-game tickets for Pearl River baseball are available now and can be purchased at PRCCAthletics.com/Tickets.
CASHLESS BOX OFFICE
To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices are cashless in 2022-23. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted at the box office. Fans are encouraged to beat the lines and purchase their tickets in advance.
Pearl River livestreams all home games for free at PRCCMedia.com/Gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app stores.
Games can also be heard on WRJW 1320-AM, 106.9 FM and WRJWRadio.com.
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