No. 1 Pearl River sweeps final tune-up before MACCC play
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 1 Pearl River baseball team shined in its final tune-up series before MACCC play begins, earning a sweep of a twin bill against Southwest and No. 15 Hinds Tuesday evening. The Wildcats won game one against the Bears 9-5 before claiming a 6-2 victory in the nightcap versus Hinds.
"The two teams that we played today are well-coached and are tough," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "I thought we just happened to be a little tougher. We executed offensively today and that's what you have to do against quality teams.
"When we defend at a very high level, we are very tough. We did that all day today and I am very proud of that."
PEARL RIVER 9, SOUTHWEST 5.
Pearl River (19-3 overall) gave the ball to JT Schnoor (Pascagoula; Resurrection) to start the day. The right-hander found himself in some early trouble with a runner in scoring position and one out. He induced a chopper to Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) at first base who whipped it to Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) at second for the first out. Broadus quickly fired over to the covering Schnoor for the inning-ending double play.
Southwest (10-9) plated a pair of runs in each of the second and third innings to send PRCC to the plate in a 4-0 hole. A Bear miscue allowed PRCC to stretch across two runs in the inning, 4-2.
SMCC tacked on a run in the fourth before PRCC started to use the long ball to inch closer. In the bottom half of the fourth, Logan Walters (Petal) left the yard with a laser over the left field wall. One inning later, Soper took an outside pitch and sent it flying over the left field wall for an opposite-field solo shot. The two homers set the PRCC deficit at one run, 5-4.
The Wildcats finally cracked the code in the sixth inning, stretching five runs in the frame to move ahead for good. With two outs, Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) drew a walk. Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy) was called upon to pinch hit and drew a walk. Marshall Phillips (Hattiesburg; Sumrall) was the next Wildcat to pinch-hit and also drew a walk, loading the bases for Broadus. The Wildcat shortstop laced a line drive into left field. The Bears outfielder crashed in and dove to try and make the catch, but the ball bounced just in front of his glove and rolled all the way to the wall. Broadus never checked up and cruised into third base for a standup, bases-clearing triple. The hit gave the Wildcats their first lead of the day, 7-5. Soper drove him in one at-bat later and heads-up base running by the first baseman helped him slide into second for an RBI double. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) then plated him by driving a single off the center field wall, 9-5.
Ware earned the win in relief after throwing 2 2/3 innings and striking out two batters. He allowed just one hit. Schnoor tossed two innings and struck out one against five hits, three runs and one walk. Cameron Fennell (Long Beach) tallied 1 2/3 innings, two hits, two walks and two earned runs. Jordan Belsome (Poplarville) rounded out the Wildcat pitchers who appeared, recording two outs.
Broadus, Soper and Perry each finished 2-for-4 in the game. Broadus and Perry drove in three runs, while Soper drove in two.
PEARL RIVER 6, HINDS 2.
In the very first inning of the day, Hinds (12-7) was in a prime position to take the lead, getting a player into scoring position. Pearl River starter Cooper Cooksey (Bay; Waveland) left a pitch hanging a little too much and it was smashed to second base. The ball was destined to go into right field for a single, but PRCC's second baseman, Breerwood, leapt high in the air and snatched the line drive to end the threat.
"In the first inning, Cooksey had second and third with no outs and managed to get out of that," Avalon said. "No one panicked. That kid is cool as a cucumber. We've been very impressed with him."
PRCC made the Eagles pay for a mistake in the bottom frame. Soper reached on an error and then Walters saw 10 pitches before smashing the 11th into left field for an RBI single, 1-0.
In the third, the Wildcats doubled their advantage, 2-0. Phillips led things off with a walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball. Soper stepped to the dish and smashed a ball along the ground and into center field for the RBI.
The Eagles got their first two runners on base in the fourth with a pair of walks, but after a timely mound visit from Pearl River skipper Michael Avalon, Cooksey picked up a swinging strikeout, a popout and a ground out to end the inning.
Cooksey allowed his first earned run of the 2023 season in the sixth and it looked as if Hinds was prepared to do more damage as they loaded the bases. The right-hander tossed an off-speed pitch to the batter and got him to roll over for an inning-ending ground out, preserving a 2-1 lead.
Walters gave the Wildcats some insurance in a big way in the bottom half of the frame. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfielder waited back on an off-speed pitch and sent it into orbit for a two-run homer, 4-1.
The Eagles added a solo homer in the seventh, but PRCC matched it in the bottom half with a sacrifice fly. Will Passeau’s (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul’s) RBI single in the eighth capped the scoring for the Wildcats.
Landen Payne (Ocean Springs; St. Martin) worked around a single in the ninth to close out the game with a 6-2 victory.
Cooksey finished his with six innings pitched and struck out four batters. He allowed just one run on seven hits and three walks. Cortez Dennis (Wiggins; Stone County) tossed an inning in relief, allowing a run on a hit. He struck out one batter. Payne earned the save after pitching the final two innings of the night. He tallied three strikeouts against two hits.
Walters finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk.
"Cream rises to the top. Look at how big he has been for us over the past week in our big games. That guy is a special player. He can hit and is a big-time leader for us. He's a special young man. He bleeds maroon-and-gold."
Soper, Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) and Passeau each collected one hit.
PRCC returns to Dub Herring Park Saturday for its conference opener against Northeast. The doubleheader is set to begin at 2 p.m.
Season and single-game tickets for Pearl River baseball are available now and can be purchased at PRCCAthletics.com/Tickets.
CASHLESS BOX OFFICE
To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices are cashless in 2022-23. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted at the box office. Fans are encouraged to beat the lines and purchase their tickets in advance.
Pearl River livestreams all home games for free at PRCCMedia.com. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from their app stores.