No. 3 Pearl River captures sixth MACCC Championship

Published 9:32 am Monday, April 29, 2024

By PRCC Athletics

Needing a victory in its season finale against Northwest, No. 3 Pearl River’s possibility of winning the MACCC Championship rested on the shoulders of freshman starting pitcher Caleb Dyess (Carriere; Pearl River Central). The right-hander toed the rubber, dug in and fired off a complete-game effort, allowing just one run to help the Wildcats take down Northwest 7-1 and win their third MACCC title in the last four seasons.

“I knew what he was going to do when I looked in his eyes before game two,” pitching coach Brandon Pennington said. “He was ready to go, and it was unbelievable. I’m getting emotional because I know how hard he works. The moment just isn’t too big for him. He competes and does what he knows to do. That’s what makes him special.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It’s been an incredible year so far for the Wildcats, featuring a 29-game winning streak and the program’s sixth conference championship. The championship is the fourth since head coach Michael Avalon took over the program. PRCC’s 46 wins tie the program record for wins in a season.

“I knew this group would finish it because they deserve it. They have worked so hard,” Avalon said. “If you compare this year’s team to last year, we have nine new starters, four new starting pitchers and new relievers. Everything was new, but I knew it would be a tough team to beat when they came together. This group is special.”

The Wildcats now host the 2024 Region 23 Tournament May 13-17 at Dub Herring Park. More details will be released at a later date.

Pearl River (46-8 overall; 25-3 MACCC) did a great job of flushing its game-one loss — thanks mainly to the momentum that Dyess gave it. The freshman took the mound and retired the first three Rangers (37-15; 21-7) to send the Wildcats to the plate for the first time. 

With the stakes as high as ever, PRCC got its offense started with a bang, plating three first-inning runs. Bryce Fowler (Madison; Germantown) led the inning off with a double down the right field line, and Jeff Ince (Brandon; Jackson Prep) followed with a walk. Hollis Porter (Hurley; East Central) did as he has all season and bashed a two-run double into the gap to put PRCC on top. The double was his 20th of the season. Following a perfect Marshall Phillips (Sumrall; Hattiesburg) sacrifice bunt, Caston Thompson (Jayess; Brookhaven Academy) sent a sacrifice fly into the outfield, 3-0.

The Rangers got one back in the top of the second, but PRCC immediately matched it. Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy) drove a double into right field, moved to third on a flyout and scored on a groundout, 4-1.

The Wildcats put the game out of reach in the fifth. Creek Robertson (Oxford; Madison Central) doubled and advanced to third on a perfect Fowler bunt single. An Ince groundout later, and the Wildcats led 5-1. Phillips and Alex Wade (Decatur, Ala.; Madison Academy) followed with singles a bit later to extend PRCC’s advantage to 7-1. 

After a clean sixth from both teams, Dyess trotted back out to the mound in the seventh with a chance to clinch the game. He forced a ground out and then induced a weak pop-up to first base. The freshman then worked into a 3-2 count before throwing a nasty breaking pitch to strike out the final batter of the day, sending the Wildcat dugout to the field in a frenzy for a dogpile.

Dyess finished with a complete game, allowing just one run and scattering six hits. He struck out six Rangers.

Fowler went 3-for-3 from the leadoff spot, scoring two runs and walking once. Porter finished 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs. Ryan also collected two hits on the day.

Pearl River found itself behind in the early going of the first game after Northwest doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly, 1-0. It wasn’t until the third inning that the Wildcats finally evened things up. Robertson doubled into left field and scored soon after on an Ince sacrifice fly, 1-1.

The Rangers went on to put up a four-spot in the fourth inning and continued to tack on runs throughout, eventually leading 9-4 after seven innings. 

The Wildcats tried to make a comeback in the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, Wade walked to lead off the inning, and Jonah Katsaboulas (Brandon) followed with a single. Before the frame ended, Ryan sent a sacrifice fly into left field, 9-5.

The ninth inning is where the Wildcats really made some noise, bringing in three runs to make it a one-run game, highlighted by sacrifice flies off the bats of Marshall Phillips (Sumrall; Hattiesburg) and Wade. The Wildcats had more runners aboard, but a flyout to right field ended the game, 9-8.

JT Schnoor (Pascagoula; Resurrection) allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three. AJ Hansen (Mobile, Ala.; McGill-Toolen) recorded two outs, giving up one hit and a walk. Carson Fair (Southaven) threw two innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out three Rangers. Austin Tommasini (Madison; Madison Central) pitched the final three innings, allowing two runs on one hit and a walk. He racked up three strikeouts.

Ince finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Phillips was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Katsaboulas also added two hits, driving in two runs along the way. Wade walked twice.

For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on X (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).