• Patrick Ochs--PRCC Athletics

Pearl River will face Jones College in Region 23 baseball opener


POPLARVILLE, Miss. — No. 6 Pearl River will open the Region XIII Tournament against rival No. 5 Jones College, the league announced Sunday night.

With the last teams clinching Sunday, the six-team field was finalized with Pearl River (26-12 overall) earning the fifth seed.

Regular season champion Itawamba (29-6) will host the tournament in Fulton and open against sixth-seed Gulf Coast (28-16) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. LSU-Eunice (48-6), which is ranked first in the country, gets an automatic bid into the tournament and will play fourth-seed Northwest (33-12) at noon Wednesday. PRCC and second-seed Jones (37-10) will play at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Wildcats stamped their ticket to the Region XXIII Tournament by toppling East Central in a rain soaked winner-take-all Game 3 at Dub Herring Park on Friday.

“One of our ultimate goals every year is to compete for a chance to go to the JUCO World Series in Enid, Oklahoma, and we have put ourselves in the best position at this point for that to happen,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “I think our guys are excited about the opportunity and will be ready to play on Wednesday.”

FAMILIAR TERRITORY

Much like this year, in Avalon’s first season in 2017, PRCC had to play its way into the Region XXIII Tournament by taking a three-game series from ICC. The Wildcats ultimately went 2-2 in the tournament. Last season, PRCC won the state championship and earned a bye into the tournament, where it went 1-2.

With this year’s inclusion, PRCC is the only MACJC school to earn a spot in the Region XXIII competition the last three years.

“I’m proud of our team for being there three times in a row," Avalon said. "Hopefully our experience the last two years will help us take the next step this year.”

LEADING THE WAY

Pearl River enters this week’s competition nationally ranked in the batter’s box and on the mound. The Wildcats are currently third among Division II teams in home runs (77), second in extra-base hits (214), sixth in total bases (850) and fifth in slugging percentage (.568). PRCC’s .359 staff ERA ranks 12th nationally and their .232 opponent’s batting average ranks seventh.

Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) leads the team in batting average at .357, while Dexter Jordan (Hattiesburg) and his 16 homers and 58 RBIs are tops on the team.

The Wildcats have had three reliable sophomore starters all season — Miles Smith (Laurel; Northeast Jones), Shemar Page (Raleigh) and Colin Danley (Lucedale; East Central) — with a fourth recently emerging in freshman Reid Reynolds (Heidelberg; Northeast Jones).

Smith is 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings; Page is 7-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings; Danley is 8-3 with a 4.41 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings; Reynolds is 5-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. Leading a number of reliable arms in the pen is sophomore Jerod Meggs (Kosciusko), who has a 2.49 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.

HOW TO TUNE IN

All games will be live streamed at LetsGoICCTV.com.

Games will also be broadcast at WRJWRadio.com (click on the Wildcat)

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


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