No. 4 Pearl River outduels archival Gulf Coast
Published 2:59 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Fans of pitching and defense were in for a treat Tuesday evening at Dub Herring Park as the No. 4 Pearl River baseball team took part in two pitcher’s duals against archrival Gulf Coast. The Wildcats held the Bulldogs to just two runs in the sweep, winning game one 5-1 and snatching the nightcap 3-1.
“There were a lot of good arms on display today for both teams. That’s a credit to our league and its toughness,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “That’s our rival. I told our guys that you can throw records and everything else out the window. I learned that when I first got here seven years ago. Those guys wanted to beat us today, just like we wanted to beat them. We were fortunate to get it done.”
Although the wind conditions weren’t favorable in the early going, Pearl River (34-8 overall; 15-5 MACCC) battled through them and put on a home run show over the first four innings of the day. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) got it started in the very first inning by sending an outside pitch flying over the right field wall for a solo homer. Two innings later, Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul’s) did his damage in a lefty-on-lefty situation. The sophomore went down in the zone and hammered a breaking ball over the right field wall. Triston Hickman was the next Wildcat to join the home run party, blasting a hanging curveball over straight away center field, 3-1.
After four stellar innings from Pearl River starter Luke Lyon (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove), Gulf Coast (16-22; 9-11) finally got to him in the fifth inning. After back-to-back singles, the Wildcats made an error which allowed a run to cross home plate, 3-1.
Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) led off the seventh inning with a single and Passeau reached on an error by the Bulldog pitcher. Jonah Katsaboulas (Pearl; Brandon) drew a walk to load up the bases and Breerwood slid into home safely moments later on a passed ball, 4-1.
Blake Hooks took over on the mound to begin the eighth inning and worked around a two-out walk to retire the side. PRCC added on a run in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Walters (Petal) got things started with a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap and advanced to third on a Hickman groundout before scoring on a passed ball, 5-1.
Hooks came back out in the ninth and earned the save after pitching a 1-2-3 inning.
Katsaboulas was the only Wildcat with multiple hits in the game, finishing 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown), Perry, Hickman and Passeau all collected an RBI in the game.
Lyon pitched seven innings of one-run baseball, scattering six hits while striking out six. The lone run charged to Lyon’s line was unearned.
“I get a little emotional when we talk about Luke. He’s just been special for us,” Avalon said. “He’s got a lot of energy. He pitches with a lot of passion and a lot of guts. He wants the baseball. We could have a pickup game tomorrow and he would beg me to pitch.”
Hooks finished with two innings pitched, walking one and striking out one.
Cooper Cooksey (Waveland; Bay) worked around a hit in each of the first three innings of his start to begin the night before the Wildcat offense gave the right-hander a lead to work with in the bottom half of the third. Katsaboulas and Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) both singled before Soper loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. Perry battled hard for a seven-pitch walk to drive in a run. In the next at-bat, a wild pitch was thrown and allowed Montz to score, 2-0.
MGCCC used a Wildcat wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run at 2-1.
PRCC added an insurance run in the fifth inning. Katsaboulas singled to start the frame and moved to second when Montz was hit by a pitch. A Soper groundout moved them each over one bag and a wild pitch to the following batter resulted in Katsaboulas taking home, 3-1.
The rain set in during the bottom half of the sixth inning, forcing a 17-minute rain delay. Although Cooksey had thrown six electic innings of one-run ball while striking out five Bulldogs, the rain forced PRCC to make a pitching change. Right-hander Landen Payne (Ocean Springs; St. Martin) took the baseball and struck out two of the three batters that he faced to secure the 3-1 victory and earn his third save of the year.
Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy) went 2-for-3 in the game. Katsaboulas finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored to push his doubleheader total to 4-for-5.
“He was good tonight. Those were big hits, and a lot came with two strikes,” Avalon said. “I told him yesterday at practice that this is what we expect from him and it’s why we brought him here. Obviously, he’s not going to get three hits a game, but it was nice to see him get a little confidence and get back going.”
“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately. I came to the park today wanting to keep everything simple,” Katsaboulas added. “I just wanted to do a job and do whatever I could to help the team win. I was seeing it well and just kept swinging it.”
Pearl River is set to travel to Coahoma on Saturday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader. The schedule is subject to change depending on weather in the area. The games can be heard at WRJW 1320-AM, 106.9 FM and WRJWRadio.com.
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