No. 4 Pearl River flexes its muscles in opening day sweep
Dylan Dunaway / PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 4 Pearl River baseball team flexed its muscles at the plate and on the mound in its season-opening sweep of Baton Rouge Wednesday night, belting five homers and holding the Bears to just one run. The Wildcats took game one 11-1 before grabbing the nightcap 5-0.
"Any time that you give up one run in two games you have got to be proud of your guys," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "We ran a lot of guys out there and I don't plan on doing that a lot, but it worked out so we could get some guy's feet wet. We're really proud of a bunch of guys.
"There's nothing like opening day and you can take it a step further that there's nothing like opening day at The Dub."
GAME ONE Dakota Lee (Purvis) earned the first start of the year for Pearl River (2-0 overall) and quickly made his presence known. The sophomore right-hander made quick work of the first batter, striking him out on five pitches before inducing a flyout and lineout to finish off the 1-2-3 inning.
The Wildcats went quietly in the bottom half of the first but broke through in the second inning to make the score 1-0. After back-to-back walks by Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) and Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison), D.K. Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) stepped up to the plate and laced a ball into right field to bring home Montz.
Pearl River started to break things open in the third inning. John Griffin Bell (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) started the inning with a hard-hit single to left field and then the reigning MACCC Player of the Year and NJCAA First Team All-American Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison) stepped into the batter's box. The sophomore picked up right where he left off last season by belting a homer over the left field wall to make the score 3-0.
The fourth inning began with a Baton Rouge (2-6) single but after a Lee strikeout, a Bear batter chopped a ball to Lee who turned and threw to the covering Bell whose throw to Donaldson finished off the double play.
PRCC put up a four-spot in the fifth frame to make the score 7-0. Just two pitches into the inning Donaldson crushed an opposite-field solo homer. Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) reached after his groundball to the third baseman was thrown away. Bell immediately made Baton Rouge pay for its mistake by belting a two-run home run over the left field wall. Matt Mercer (Richton; Petal) doubled one batter later and eventually came around to score on an error.
Will Passeau (Mobile, Ala.; St. Pauls) made his college debut in the sixth inning. The Bears got a run back on a solo shot to make the score 7-1, but Passeau struck out two batters and made the other pop out to end the inning.
PRCC opened its half of the sixth inning with four consecutive singles that resulted in an RBI each for Broadus and Bell. A pickoff attempt by Baton Rouge got away from the first baseman and Broadus came around to score to put Pearl River up 10-1.
Cole Tolbert (Laurel; West Jones) made his collegiate pitching debut in the seventh inning and swiftly sent the Bears back to the dugout with three consecutive strikeouts.
The Wildcats ended the game with an 11-1 run-rule victory after a Broadus single.
Lee finished his outing with five innings pitched, three strikeouts and zero runs allowed against just one hit. Passeau pitched an inning, allowing one run while striking out two. Tolbert tallied one inning, three strikeouts, no hits and no runs.
Bell led the team in hits and RBIs with three of each. Broadus, Parker, Logan Walters (Petal) and Donaldson each had two hits.
No. 4 Pearl River's D.K. Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) got his season started with a bang in Wednesday's sweep of Baton Rouge. The sophomore finished the day with four hits, two homers and four RBIs. (Courtney Crosby/PRCC Athletics)
GAME TWO Leif Moore (Biloxi; St. Martin) made his first start since the 2020 season in game two after recovering from Tommy John surgery in the 2021 season. Moore got off to a great start in the new season, getting out all three batters that he faced in the first inning.
The Wildcats opened the scoring in the second inning as Donaldson continued his great day by depositing the second pitch that he saw way beyond the left field wall. Shortly after, Broadus singled home Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) to make the score 2-0.
An inning later, Donaldson pushed the Wildcat lead out to 3-0 after a line drive single brought home Mercer.
The Wildcats found themselves in a bit of trouble in the fourth inning as two runners reached base with two outs. Redshirt freshman Harper Jordan (Hattiesburg; Presbyterian Christian) then entered the game and forced a hard-hit ground ball that was snagged by the diving Donaldson who hopped to his feet and stepped on the bag to end the threat.
The Wildcats added on two runs in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 5-0. Perry got the scoring started with a moonshot home run over the left field wall. Parker brought another run home later in the inning on a single.
The lead was enough for Pearl River as they held on to win 5-0.
Moore finished his outing with 3 2/3 innings pitched and two strikeouts against just one hit.
"It was really, really special to see him out there," Avalon said. "Coach (Brandon) Pennington said that when he was out there warming up that he kind of got emotional because you know what that kid has been through. He was really good early but ran out of juice."
Jordan pitched just 1/3 of an inning but gave up no runs or hits.
Byrion Robinson (Brookhaven) made his first appearance of the season after recovering from Tommy John surgery for all the 2021 season. He ended his outing by going one inning with two strikeouts and two walks.
"Byrion is electric," Avalon said. "He's coming off Tommy John surgery and that's his first game action in at least a year. It was special to see him make those two pitches at the end to get out of the bases-loaded jam."
Landen Payne (Ocean Springs; St. Martin) threw just seven pitches in his collegiate debut, finishing with one inning pitched and no runs allowed.
Bobby Magee (Petal) pitched the final inning of the night and tallied two strikeouts against two hits and a walk.
Donaldson, Parker and Broadus tied for the team lead in hits with two each.
"D.K. had a big-time day," Avalon said. "He hasn't swung it well all early spring but when the lights come on, he tends to show up. I'm glad he's a Wildcat."
After the games, Bell talked about what it meant to see Moore and Robinson back on the mound.
"Those are my guys," he said. "I ride for them, and I die for them. I'm so glad they're able to get back out there and compete. They did a great job today."
UP NEXT Pearl River returns to action Friday as Coastal Alabama – South comes to Dub Herring Park for a doubleheader. The first game is set to get underway at 1 p.m.
TICKETS Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at PRCCAthletics.com/tickets.
TUNE IN All home Pearl River basketball games are livestreamed for free at PRCCMedia.com/gold. 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.
Games can also be heard on WRJW 1320-AM, 106.9 FM and WRJWRadio.com.