Head Coach Neil Walther and his Pearl River Central Blue Devil baseball teams continue to defy the odds when it comes to the third game of playoff series. The Blue Devils prevailed once again with an 8-4 win over West Harrison pushing their record to 11-1 in game three scenarios.
When asked by WRJW’s Carey Meitzler about why he thinks the Blue Devils are so successful in game three situations, Walther tried to explain the success.
“You and I’ve talked about it numerous times for years trying to figure it out and I guess the kids really have a lot of faith in each other. They trust each other and that’s the only thing I came come up with,” Walther shared.
After winning Game 1 on Friday at West Harrison behind a superb complete game performance by senior right hander Austin Dean, PRC was beaten 7-1 at Carriere on Saturday. During that game, starting pitcher Mason Treat was injured early in the game while diving back into a base and that forced Walther into inserting junior Austin Diebold into the game. Diebold threw the maximum pitches allow by state mandated pitch count guidelines that would allow him to pitch in the next game.
Diebold, who was coming off a complete game win against Wayne County the weekend before, was the guy Walther handed the ball on Monday night in Game 3.
“Here’s a guy (Dielbold) who had never pitched until this year and he gets thrown into a very tough situation and didn’t bat an eye. He was simply great with another complete game. The only negative now is that he can’t throw again until Game 3 in the next series,” Walther said.
Diebold ran into trouble in the third when West Harrison was able to push across three runs to erase an 1-0 lead PRC had taken with an unearned run in the top of the first. Diebold got a strike out with the bases loaded to get out of the inning.
Down 3-1, PRC scored four runs in the fifth. The Blue Devils had a walk to Cameron Brunson, Caleb Dyess was hit by pitch, an intentional walk to Hayden Dunhurst (third of four times in the game), and another hit by pitch on Treat (forced in a run). Dyess scored on a wild pitch with Ethan Songy batting. Songy earned a walk to bring in a run to make it 3-3. Caiden Shoemake singled to right to score another run to put the Blue Devils up 4-3. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Robert Shoemake plated another run to make it 5-3.
Diebold (pictured from Game 2) would allow another run in the 5th inning, PRC scored a run in the sixth to answer the Hurricanes.
The Blue Devils added two more runs in the top of the seventh when Brunson doubled with one out.
Diebold retired the Hurricanes in order in the 6th and 7th inning to finish the game.
Diebold scattered six hits, struck out seven, and walked four (two intentional).
PRC (21-9) will host Game 1 of a best of 3 series on Thursday against Region 7-5A foe North Pike. North Pike rallied from a 7-2 deficit to beat Brookhaven 8-7 in Game 3 of their series.