No. 1 Pearl River sweeps Wharton County in season debut
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
HAMMOND, La. — The No. 1 Pearl River baseball team got its National Championship defense started with a bang on Saturday at Alumni Field on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana. The Wildcats swept NJCAA Division I foe Wharton County, winning game one 6-2 and taking the nightcap 6-1.
“The infield played really well today, and we pitched the heck out of the ball,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “For a first game of the year, I was very, very proud of the guys. I really like to win games, knowing that we can play better. That was a really good ball club over there, so these wins were big for us.”
Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul’s) earned the first start of the season for Pearl River (2-0 overall) and worked around a weak single to retire the side in the first inning.
PRCC went quietly in its first turn at the plate of 2023 but got the scoring started with a bang in the bottom of the second. Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) singled just out of the reach of the diving Wharton County (1-5) first baseman and Logan Walters (Petal) followed it with a chopped single between the third baseman and shortstop. Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) then stepped up to the plate and demolished an opposite-field 3-run homer over the left field wall to push PRCC ahead. The next two Wildcats to bat were retired but the Wildcat bats the scoring didn’t end. Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy) poked a single into left field and swiped second base a pitch later. Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) drove him home moments later with a single. A ball off the bat of Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) scored the last run of the inning after the WCJC third baseman missed his target on the throw to first base. The big inning set the Wildcats ahead 5-0.
Passeau had a big inning in the top of the third, striking out three batters to keep the game scoreless.
After a quiet fourth inning, Blake Gollott (Saucier; D’Iberville) made his collegiate pitching debut to begin the fifth inning. After an infield single, Gollott induced a ground ball that Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) flipped to his middle infield partner Broadus who in turn threw to first for a double play. The next WCJC batter lined a ball to centerfield for the final out.
Wharton County used a double and a bloop single to plate a run in the top of the sixth, 6-1.
The Pioneers scratched across another run in the top of the seventh inning, but Gollott was eventually able to close the door and secure the 6-2 victory.
Passeau finished his first outing of the season with four innings and five strikeouts against four hits. He allowed no runs. Gollott tossed three innings, allowing five hits, one walk and two runs. He struck out three batters.
Soper led the way for PRCC, finishing 2-for-2 with a homer and 3 RBIs. He also drew a walk.
Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) singles against Wharton County.
“That home run just shows you his strength,” Avalon said. “He may be a secret right now, but he won’t be for long. When he steps into that box he gets people’s attention. He had some great at-bats today.” Ryan finished 2-for-3 in the contest.
The nightcap saw Snead State transfer Luke Lyon (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) take the ball first for PRCC. The right-hander induced a pair of flyouts and a groundout to get out of the inning quickly. Broadus led off the bottom of the first with a double, but the Wildcats weren’t able to bring him around.
The first run of the game came in the top of the third when Wharton County laced a solo homer over the wall in right field. PRCC matched the run in the bottom half of the inning. Blake Hooks (Petal) tucked a ball down the left field line for a double. A Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy) single into left field pushed Hooks to third base and then Broadus brought him home with a towering sacrifice fly to square the game, 1-1.
The Wildcats took the lead in the bottom half of the fourth, 2-1. Perry led things off with a double off the glove of the diving Pioneer centerfield. Walters then moved him over to third base with a blooper that fell in center field. Soper delivered again in the next at-bat, driving a single into right field to bring home Perry.
Hooks entered in relief to begin the fifth frame. The first batter walked but Hooks got the next batter to bounce back to him for a double play. He finished off the inning with a pop-out to shortstop.
PRCC added another in the fifth. Sute hit a ball along the ground and an error allowed him to advance to second. Broadus then brought him home with a single, increasing the lead to 3-1. Hooks escaped a jam in the sixth. Despite getting the first two batters to pop out, Hooks walked three consecutive batters to load the bases. He got the next batter to ground a ball back to him and he jogged over and tossed it to first base for the out.
Three more runners crossed home plate for the Wildcats in the sixth, increasing the lead to 6-1. Hooks led off the inning with a double and Sute promptly brought him home with a single. A flyout to left field advanced Sute to third and then Breerwood was hit by a pitch. Perry then brought home Breerwood after his ball in play resulted in an error.
Landen Payne (St. Martin; Ocean Springs) made his first pitching appearance since suffering an injury in last season’s Region 23 Tournament and shut the game down instantly to secure the 6-1 victory. Lyon pitched four innings, allowing three hits, two walks and one run. He struck out two batters. Hooks threw two innings and Payne tossed the final inning of the night.
Broadus went 2-for-4 with a double and Hooks went 2-for-3 with two doubles.
LAFAYETTE, La. — The Pearl River baseball team concluded the two-day series against Wharton County with another sweep. The Wildcats trailed late in both games but showed immense composure to rally and win both games 8-3 and 11-7.
"Our leaders stepped there at the end and refused to lose," head coach Michael Avalon said. "Credit to them, they played just as long as we did and took the lead on us late, but again credit to our guys refusing to get beat in the end."
Cooper Cooksey (Waveland; Bay High) took the mound in game one for the Pearl River (4-0 overall) and retired the first eight batters he faced. Despite a runner reaching on an error, Cooksey worked out of the jam to keep things scoreless after three innings.
The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning when Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy) scored on a throwing error. Wharton County (1-7) responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of its own to take a 3-1 lead.
The Wildcats were not fazed and proceeded to plate seven runs in the sixth inning. The inning began with three straight walks by Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala; Faith Academy), Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville), and Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown). Shortly thereafter, Broadus came around to score on an infield fly to cut the deficit, 3-2. The scoring continued on an RBI single by Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) that allowed Breerwood to score to tie the game at 3-3. The Wildcats took advantage of a few wild pitches to take the lead. The scoring barrage continued with a Broadus RBI single that was followed up by a Breerwood double to blow things open 8-3. Bobby Magee (Petal) shut down the Pioneer offense in the bottom half of the inning to send the offense back to the plate.
After a quiet inning, Cameron Fennell (Long Beach) closed things out for the Wildcats in game one, securing an impressive 8-3 victory.
Soper, Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike), Broadus, Triston Hickman (Wiggins; Stone County), Ryan, and Breerwood all collected hits for the Wildcats in game one. Soper, Ryan and Breerwood collected an RBI each.
Cooksey was solid in his first start tossing four complete innings, striking out five. He allowed two runs on two hits and walked a batter. Magee was stellar in relief pitching two shutout innings while striking out four. Fennell tossed a scoreless seventh inning.
Broadus got things started for the Wildcats in the first with a double. He came around to score a few moments later on a Breerwood single. Logan Walters continued the early offense after reaching on an error and came around to score when Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala; American Christian Academy) laced a ball through the right side for a single to increase the lead to 2-0. Ian Montz (Lafayette, La; Acadiana) scored on a hard-hit single by Jonah Katsaboulas (Pearl; Brandon) to set the score at 3-0.
The Pioneers cut the lead 3-2 shortly after to force a pitching change and Jordan Belsome (Poplarville) answered the call by working out the bases-loaded jam to halt the rally.
Cortez Dennis (Wiggins; Stone) came on to pitch in the third and was electric for the Wildcats working four scoreless innings. WCJC finally broke through against Cortez in the seventh and plated four runs to force two pitching changes in the inning. After the Pioneers took a 7-4 lead, JT Schnoor (Pascagoula; Resurrection) retired the final batter to bring the seventh inning to a close.
The Wildcats found themselves down to their final three outs with the top of the batting order due up in the ninth. Needing a spark, Ryan opened the inning with a walk. Broadus followed that up with a walk of his own to set up first and second with no outs. Soper stepped up moments later and scorched a base hit that scored Ryan to cut the deficit, 7-5. Walters punched a ball into left centerfield moments later to score Broadus and bring the deficit down to one. Sute continued the rally by rifling a ball back up the middle for a base hit, but Walters and Soper only advanced one base. Blake Hooks(Petal) put together an impressive at-bat by fouling off six straight pitches and finally roping a single into right field scoring Walters and Soper to complete the comeback 8-7. The Wildcats were not done there as Montz continued the inning with a 2-run triple to increase the lead, 10-7. The scoring was capped off with a Katsaboulas sacrifice fly to set the score 11-7. Schnoor slammed the door in the bottom half of the inning to complete the comeback victory 11-7.
Sute collected three hits and an RBI on the evening. He also walked and scored a run. Montz and Walters collected two hits and two RBIs each. Soper finished with two hits and an RBI. He also walked and scored two runs. Broadus set the table well in game two by collecting two hits and two walks. He also scored twice.
Dennis pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out five batters. Schnoor pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and struck out two.
The Wildcats hit the road on Friday against Enterprise State. First pitch is set for 12 p.m.