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Blue Devils baseball wins first State Championship

Photo Courtesy of MHSAA

Photo by Keith Warren of MHSAA

Pearl - The Pearl River Central Blue Devils baseball program made history on Saturday by beating the Oxford Chargers 7-3 to win the Class 5A baseball State Championship and giving the school’s its first baseball state championship.

"We worked so hard to get here and played some really good teams," PRC Head coach Neil Walther said. "Oxford is a great team."

The start of the game was a shaky one for the Blue Devils as Oxford scored two runs in the bottom of the first on a leadoff triple by Sam Bianco, a RBI sacrifice fly, a triple by Drew Bianco, and a RBI single by Ben Bianco.

"They hit him hard in that first inning," PRC head coach Neil Walther said. "He gave up two runs in the first but then he settled in. But we always have confidence in him and stick with him."

PRC got a run in the top of the second when Eli Lee reached on an error and scored on groundout by Connor Holston to make it 2-1.

Cade Lee worked a scoreless second and third, while collecting three strikeouts. He also got a great play from right fielder, Caleb Tynes, when he ran the wall in the right field corner to rob C.J. Terrell of extra bases.

The Blue Devils took control of the game in the top of the fourth. Eli Lee and Josh Kennedy singled and Cade Lee walked to load the bases. After a strikeout, Zach Roussell doubled down the left field line to bring in Lee and Kennedy. Tynes laid down a sacrifice bunt to bring in Lee and move Kennedy to third base. Tristian Schlottman was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Austen Izzio singled deep in the hole at short to score Roussell and move Schlottman to third base. Schlottman would complete the scoring in the inning when he scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-2.

Oxford got a run in the fifth on a single by Sam Bianco and a RBI single from Drew Bianco. In the bottom of the sixth, Clark Stovall single to left to start the inning, but Lee kept his composure and got two fly outs to centerfield and a groundout to second to get out of the inning.

Oxford reliever Bo Gaitlin, who came in to the last out of the fourth to stop the Blue Devil’s big inning, retired PRC in order in the fifth and sixth innings.

The Blue Devils got crucial run in the top of the seventh inning. Austen Izzio singled to left to start the inning. Hayden Dunhurst drove a pitch to right field wall and Izzio wisely tagged and moved up to second base. Eli Lee singled to center field to score Izzio to make it 7-3.

Cade Lee came out in the bottom of the seventh and got two long fly ball outs to start the inning. An error on ball hit to left field by Carson Stinnett gave Oxford new life. After Lee threw the first pitch to Drew Bianco for a ball, Coach Neil Walther went to the bullpen and brought in Rigel Robinson who had thrown 101 pitches on Tuesday in a complete game victory.

"I knew I had thrown a lot of pitches and I was running out of gas," Cade Lee said. "But I just tried to go out there and do battle and compete every pitch."

Robinson walked Drew Bianco and Ben Bianco to load the bases. Robinson then struck out Stovall with a curve ball on a 2-2 pitch to earn the save and start the celebration for the Blue Devils.

Cade Lee scattered 6 hits and had 5 strikeouts to move his record to 8-0.

"I actually told the guys yesterday to make that the last game I ever played," Cade said talking about his last high school performance. "But hey, we got game three out of so I guess I extended this as far as we could. And this is probably the greatest thing thats ever happened to me baby!"

Izzio had 3 hits to lead the Blue Devils hitters and Eli Lee had two hits.

Pearl River Central finishes with a 28-12 record while Oxford ends up 32-7.

"We worked so hard to get here and played some really good teams, Oxford is a great team," Walther said. "I'm really at a loss for words. Its a bunch of great kids and an awesome staff, and everything just fell into place."


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