No. 3 Pearl River sweeps its way to Region 23 Tournament
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Mother Nature provided the rain; No. 3 Pearl River supplied the thunder.
Although an hour-long rain delay took place, the Wildcats run-ruled Southwest 9-1 in eight innings to punch their ticket to the Region 23 Tournament for a sixth consecutive time.
The tournament will take place May 15-19 at LSU Eunice.
“Our goal every year is to make the Region Tournament. It’s an incredible accomplishment to say that you’ve survived and made it to the Regional,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “We want to go over there and return back to Enid. That’s our goal. You play so hard to get to this point, so when you get to this point, you’re just thankful. Hopefully, our guys will rest and relax a little bit before we head to Eunice.”
Cooper Cooksey (Waveland; Bay) earned the start for the Wildcats and made quick work of Southwest (23-27) with a 1-2-3 inning. The PRCC offense was unable to scratch across any runs in the bottom half and that’s when the downpour began.
After the rain delay ended, Cooksey trotted right back out to the mound for the second. Although he ran into a little trouble with a pair of baserunners, he retired the side to send PRCC to the plate.
The Wildcats rewarded Cooksey’s tough efforts with an insurance run. Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) was at the plate and got the bat out in front of an inside pitch and sent it flying down the right field line. The ball looked as if it may go foul but instead clanked off the foul pole for a solo homer, 1-0.
Wildcats celebrate the Ian Montz home run.
In the fourth, the Wildcats added two insurance runs. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a Bear wild pitch. Triston Hickman (Wiggins; Stone County) also singled in the frame and scored on a Hunter Sute (Tuscaloosa, Ala.; American Christian Academy) RBI single, 3-0.
The fifth inning saw Perry draw a seven-pitch walk to set up Logan Walters (Petal) for his team-leading 11th homer of the season. The monster two-run shot extended the PRCC advantage to 5-0.
The Bears got one run back in the sixth off a solo shot, but PRCC matched the crooked half-inning with two runs in its half. Blaise Breerwood (Poplarville) drew a walk and scored on a wild pitch soon after. Jonah Katsaboulas (Pearl; Brandon) reached on an SMCC miscue and scored when Perry ripped a line drive single into right field, 7-1.
PRCC put an end to the game in the eighth inning. Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Paul’s) began the frame with a hard-hit single into right field and advanced a base on Preston Soper’s (Madison; Germantown) 55th walk of the campaign. Perry loaded the bases with a single and Walters followed it up with a bases-loaded walk. Hickman ended the game a batter later. Southwest drew the infield in to try and avoid another run loss, but Hickman placed his hit in the perfect location for an infield single and a 9-1 run-rule victory.
Despite having to deal with a long rain delay in the middle of his start, Cooksey still tossed five shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out three. The win increased his record to a perfect 9-0.
“Every night we give a shirt out and Cooksey earned ours tonight,” Avalon said. “Because of the delay, he had been pitching for two hours and 15 minutes and he’d thrown four innings. That’s really tough to do. He did a tremendous job. The kid has been special for us all year, so hats off to him. He was incredible for us.”
Blake Gollott (D’iberville) recorded an out and gave up one run on three hits. Bobby Magee (Petal) was electric out of the pin, throwing 2 2/3 innings and striking out five. He allowed just one hit.
Perry finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk. Walters was 1-for-2 but walked three times and drove in three runs. When asked about the duo, Avalon found himself a little emotional.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s those two guys last time playing at The Dub,” he said. “It’s tough to see. They are tremendous players but even better people. That’s what makes them so special.”
Hickman, Montz and Sute each finished with a pair of hits. Breerwood walked three times.
UP NEXT Pearl River will return to action May 15-19 at the Region 23 Tournament. Stay tuned to Pearl RIver social accounts for updates on opponents and game times.