No. 2 Pearl River comes from behind twice to sweep No. 5 Meridian
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — It's hard to ask a team to come from behind in back-to-back games. It's even harder when the opposition is the fifth-ranked team in the country, but No. 2 Pearl River did just that Tuesday evening at Dub Herring Park, defeating No. 5 Meridian 7-3 in game one and using a walk-off single in game two to win 7-6.
"They gave us all we wanted today. I am proud of my guys and how tough they are. They refused to lose today," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "We took their best shot and found a way to win. These are two very big wins for our program."
"That's a really good team. They're fifth in the country. Our league is so tough. Every time out is a dogfight. You have to earn everything that you get. This league doesn't get to sit around and wait."
Pearl River (26-4 overall; 7-1 MACCC) had a really good chance to get on the board in the bottom of the first but came up just short. Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) led off the frame with a single and stole his team-high 17th base of the year. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) blooped a single just over the head of the Meridian (18-8; 4-4) first baseman. PRCC's next two batters were retired by the Eagles to end the threat.
The Wildcats struck first in the second courtesy of Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville). The second baseman walked, stole second base, advanced on a groundout and then grabbed home on a passed ball.
MCC struck for three runs in the third to move ahead 3-1. After a scoreless bottom of the third, PRCC skipper Michael Avalon opted for a new pitcher. That was when the Luke Lyon (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) takeover began. The right-hander proceeded to throw five exceptional shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out an incredible 11 batters, including a string of seven consecutive.
Luke Lyon (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) celebrates after a big strikeout against No. 5 Meridian. The right-hander finished his outing with 11 strikeouts in five innings pitched. (PHOTO: Trenton Gascho/PRCC Athletics)
"What a shot of energy Luke Lyon was," Avalon said. "He wanted the baseball in that situation and those are the kind of guys that you want to play behind. He was exceptional today, we couldn't have asked him for much more."
The Wildcats rewarded Lyon's efforts with a three-spot in each of the fifth and sixth innings, putting him in line for the win. In the fifth, Triston Hickman (Wiggins; Stone County) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) followed it with a four-pitch walk. The final run of the inning was scored on a single off the bat of Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy) who slashed the ball into right field, making the score 4-3 Wildcats. PRCC's sixth inning saw Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) score on an Eagle error and Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) drive in a run with a fielder's choice. Hickman then placed a single perfectly between the fielders on the right side of the infield to drive in the final run of the frame, 7-3.
Bobby Magee (Petal) took the ball in the ninth inning and needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side and secure the victory.
Hickman led the way at the dish, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Ryan also went 2-for-3 in the game and collected one RBI. Perry was the only other Wildcat with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-5. Breerwood drew three walks in the game.
Meridian was the first team to get on the board in the second game, using three hits and a Wildcat error to move ahead 1-0. PRCC matched the run in the second inning as Broadus smacked a 0-1 pitch into left field to bring home Hickman.
Two more Eagle runs scored in the third to bring them ahead 3-1. In PRCC's half of the inning, Logan Walters (Petal) walked in the third and advanced to second on a Hickman hit-by-pitch. Breerwood stepped to the dish and went to the opposite field for an RBI single, 3-2.
MCC again extended its lead in the fifth, 4-2, before Pearl River added a run in the bottom half. With two outs in the inning, Hickman singled and Breerwood was hit by a pitch to set up a runner in scoring position for Ryan. Ryan picked up an RBI by knocking a hit into centerfield. The run made it 4-3.
The Eagles put up a two-spot on the PRCC relief pitcher in the sixth inning, making way for a relief appearance from Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul's). The right-hander was electric out of the pen, striking out the next five batters that he faced to keep the Eagles at bay.
PRCC added a run in the sixth on a Walters single, but the seventh was where the magic really happened. Parker Ryanbegan the inning with a seven-pitch walk which was followed by a hit-by-pitch for Jonah Katsaboulas (Pearl; Brandon). After drawing a full count, Broadus slapped a ball down the right field line for an RBI double, cutting the MCC lead to 6-4. Meridian opted to intentionally walk Soper to pitch to the reigning MACCC Player of the Week Perry with the bases loaded. Perry worked his way into a 2-2 count before slapping a two-run single into right field to pick up a walk-off 7-6 victory and send the Wildcat bench into a frenzy of jubilation.
"Before my at-bat, coach Avalon told me that this situation was made for me," Perry said. "He told me not to do too much. I worked a good count and was guessing fastball on that last pitch he threw me. He threw it and I put a decent swing on it to get the job done."
Broadus finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs in the contest. Perry was the only other player with multiple hits, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Soper drew three walks in the game.
Pearl River hits the road for the first time in a while on Saturday to take on Itawamba. First pitch in Fulton is set for 2 p.m. The games will be livestreamed at LetsGoICCTV.com.