Wildcats continue hot play with sweep over Itawamba
POPLARVILLE – The River keeps right on rolling in baseball.
Pearl River Community College continued to play winning ball Friday afternoon, sweeping an MACJC doubleheader from second-ranked Itawamba, 5-0 and 8-6.
No. 18 PRCC (22-4 overall) remained in first place in the conference at 8-0, improving its winning streak to six games. The Wildcats have won 13 of their last 14 games. Itawamba (19-5) dropped into fourth place at 5-3 in conference games.
Freshman Shemar Page (Raleigh) struck out 10 batters and the Wildcats held the Indians to three hits in the opener. Freshman Wiley Cleland (Columbia) hit a two-run double in the sixth inning of Game 2 to put the Wildcats on top after trailing 5-0 early.
“First game, I thought we pitched it well,” said PRCC coach Michael Avalon. “We left a few runners on back, and that’s something we need to work on, getting better in situational hitting.
“But the bottom line is, we played really hard against a good team and got a couple of big victories going into Easter.”
Page (6-0) was sensational in Game 1. He went seven innings, struck out 10, walked three and allowed two hits. He was never in serious trouble, and when the Indians did get runners on base, the Wildcat defense was able to deal with it.
PRCC turned a double play after a leadoff walk in the third, then threw out a runner at second trying to stretch a leadoff single in the fifth into a double and a thwarted steal in the sixth kept a run off the board when the Indians got a two-out triple.
Redshirt freshman Matt Taylor (Raleigh) hit the first pitch in the bottom of the second for a home run to leftfield, his first of the season.
The Wildcats made it 3-0 on a two-run double by redshirt sophomore Bryson Medious, and added two more runs on back-to-back solo homers in the seventh by Medious and sophomore Simon Landry (Ponchatoula, La.).
It was the fourth homer of the season for Medious and the 10th for Landry.
Freshman Colin Danley (Lucedale) pitched the final two innings, allowing only an infield single with two out in the ninth, and he struck out three.
Pearl River sophomore first baseman Simon Landry squeezes a throw from the infield to record an out during action earlier this week against Mississippi Gulf Coast at Poplarville.
Photos by PRCC Sports Information
In the second game, the Indians jumped on redshirt sophomore Drake Nightengale for five runs on five hits and three wild pitches, two of which were dropped third strikes.
But NIghtengale settled down and got the Wildcats to the fourth inning, by which time PRCC had battled back.
Sophomore Derek Eberly (Blountstown, Fla.) led off the bottom of the first with a double, Medious was hit by a pitch and both came trotting home on Landry’s second homer of the day, giving him 38 RBIs for the year.
Medious hit a double to cut the margin to 5-4 in the second, driving in freshman Trenton Lee (Picayune), who led off the inning with a single.
Itawamba got a run in the fourth, but freshman Jerod Meggs came out of the bullpen to get a double play to end the inning. Eberly answered with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning, his fifth of the year.
Pearl River’s winning rally in the sixth came after sophomore Colby White (Foxworth) worked around a leadoff single and a wild pitch that allowed the runner to reach third after a sacrifice. White got a groundout to third and a fly ball to leftfield to keep the Indians at bay.
With one out, Landry smacked a double off the wall in centerfield, freshman Noah Barron (Hoover, Ala.) and Taylor both walked to load the bases, and Cleland laced a 3-2 pitch just inside the third base bag into the leftfield corner to drive in two runs.
Freshman Magruder O’Bannon (Long Beach) followed with a sacrifice fly to score an insurance run. But White didn’t need it, as he got two strikeouts and a groundout to Cleland at third to retire ICC in order and earn the victory, improving his record to 2-1.
“I keep sounding like a broken record with these kids when I tell them, ‘we’ve got a good team coming in here. If we don’t play well, it won’t go well for us,’” Avalon said.
“But we’ll give them a couple of days off to be with their families for Easter, then get ready for East Central and Meridian next week.”
The Wildcats will be on the road to face the 17th-ranked Warriors at 3 p.m. Wednesday. PRCC will host Meridian on Saturday in the first of three consecutive home doubleheaders. Game 2 against the Eagles will be livestreamed on prccmedia.com.