Carriere--After losing Game 1 at Brookhaven, the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils faced a tall order in needing to win two games against Lady Panthers’ pitcher Haley Nations who tossed a no-hitter in the 2-0 victory on Monday. Up to the task, PRC won Game 2 behind two solo home runs from Shelby Archer and then took the decisive Game 3 by a 6-3 score to advance to the South State championship series.
In Game 2, Archer led off the bottom of the second with her seventh home run of the year on a 2-2 count to take a 1-0 lead.
Brookhaven tied the game in the top of the sixth, but Archer launched her second dinger on 0-1 pitch with one out.
Jade Latham pitched another complete game scattering four hits, recording seven strikeouts, and walking two batters to get the win. Nations struck out seven, allowed three hits, and walked three batters.
In Game 3, Brookhaven scored first with a run in the run in the top of the fourth on a RBI double by Kyla Henderson.
PRC answered in the bottom of the inning. Archer reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. Madison Gower laid down a perfect bunt and was safe at first when the throw got away from the first baseman and Archer scored to tie the game at 1-1. Gower ended up at second on the play. Latham lined out to left field and the left fielder threw wildly past the second baseman attempting to force Gower out and the ball rolled all the way behind first base and Gower raced home barely beating the throw to home with her slide to put PRC up 2-1. Madi Glidewell singled to left and Keigan Pearson hit a 2-2 pitch over the left center field fence for a home run to make it 4-1. It was Pearson's sixth home run of the season.
Brookhaven scored a run in the top of the fifth to make 4-2. But the Lady Blue Devils added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Archer was intentionally walked with two outs and no one on base. Gower singled to center field and when the throw went to third base trying to get Archer, Gower raced to second base on the play. With Jade Latham batting, a wild pitch allowed Archer to score and when the catcher threw back toward the pitcher, the ball went past the pitcher and Gower scored to make it 6-2.
Brookhaven (22-6) got a run in the top of the seventh before Latham was able to record the three outs to win the game and clinch the series.
Head Coach Tony Labella was exhausted, but very happy about his team’s play in sweeping the two games.
“It was really tough to beat this team twice. Brookhaven, all year, has been one of the best teams in the state. It’s not often a pitcher no hits you and then you are able to come back and beat her twice, “ he said.
Labella had a lot of praise for Brookhaven.
“ I told their coach and the pitcher (Nations) that no one deserved to lose this series. They are one of the best teams we’ve ever played, “ he shared.
“In Game 1, we rode Shelby and Jade. Shelby got the two big hits, Jade battled and pitched well, and we made the plays behind her. The last game, Keigen Pearson gets the big hit. She’d been struggling a little the past few weeks, but give her credit, she hung in there and got it done,” said Labella.
Shelby Archer talks about the games
Pearl River Central (24-4) will play Game 1 at North Pike on Friday in the South State finals, and then host Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) on Saturday.