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Pearl River displays potent offense and defense on day two of Panama City Beach College Invitational

Richard Gleber - PRCC

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – The Pearl River baseball team relied on every aspect of their game to win both games on Saturday at the Panama City Beach College Invitational. The Wildcats defeated Dyersburg State 7-0 in game one and battled to a hard-fought 6-3 victory over Florida Southwestern State in the nightcap.

"This is why we came down here, for the experience. Playing as good of a baseball team as you can face," PRCC head coach Michael Avalon commented on the team's performance. "Go back to yesterday's game; we played hard and played the host team. They made a play or two more than us. We were right in that game. To get off the mat and respond against a good Dyersburg and a really good Florida Southwestern team, it will really be good for us down the stretch to put ourselves in these situations against really good teams early on.

A bunch of scouts are watching our games; Connor Ware (Madison; Germantown) threw in front of 40-plus scouts yesterday. So putting ourselves in those pressure situations early in the season and watching our guys handle it will be invaluable down the stretch."


Pearl River (3-1 overall) scored four runs in the third inning to put away Dyersburg State (0-4 overall) in game two of the Panama City Beach Invitational.  

Thomas Crabtree (Collierville, Tenn.) opened the contest by striking out the side in the top of the first. After putting two runners on base in the bottom half of the first, the Wildcats could not take advantage, and the game remained scoreless.

The Wildcat defense held strong in the second inning, with Crabtree picking up his fourth strikeout of the game. The Pearl River offense came alive in the second inning, opening up with back-to-back doubles. Caston Thompson (Jayess; Brookhaven Academy) opened the inning by sending a long shot to the right-centerfield for a double. Not to be outdone, Alex Wade (Decatur, Ala.; Madison Academy) sent the first pitch he saw on the afternoon to left field for a double, scoring Thompson, 1-0. Wade later advanced to third on a passed ball. Wade scored on a fielder's choice by Parker Ryan (Madison; Jackson Academy), 2-0.

The defense came up big for the Wildcats in the top of the third. Third baseman Jonah Katsaboulas (Brandon) made a backhand snag and long throw on a hard Eagle grounder for the first out of the inning. Later, with a runner on first base, second baseman Jeff Ince (Brandon; Jackson Prep) hauled in a line drive, preventing the runner from advancing.

The River took advantage of Eagle miscues to plate four runs in the third inning. Creek Robertson (Oxford; Madison Central) opened the inning with a single to left field. Marshall Phillips (Hattiesburg; Sumrall) gave the Wildcats another baserunner by drawing a walk. An Ince single to right field scored Robertson and advanced Phillips to third base, 3-0. Phillips took advantage of a passed ball by an Eagle pitcher to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead. Alex Wade (Decatur, Ala.; Madison Academy) gave the Wildcats a second baserunner after being hit by a pitch. Ince and Wade scored on Eagle passed balls, bringing the Wildcat lead to six, 6-0.

Blaine Knight (Kiln; Hancock) made a statement in his first appearance as a Wildcat. Entering the game in the top of the fifth in relief, Knight only needed six pitches, leading to three Eagle flyouts.

The Wildcats closed out the scoring in the bottom of the fifth. Thompson and Wade reached first with walks to open the inning. Pinch hither Keegan Giger (Petal) advanced both Wildcat runners with a sacrifice bunt. After a Ryan walk, Bryce Fowler (Madison; Germantown) brought Thompson home with a sacrifice single to the pitcher, 7-0.

Knight struck out two batters in the top of the sixth, and AJ Hansen (Mobile, Ala.; McGill-Toolen) closed out the game, holding the Eagles scoreless in the top of the seventh.

"What I was most proud of offensively in game one was that we jumped out to a good start, our first two guys went out, hit a base hit and a double, and we left them stranded," Avalon commented. "We could've let that affect us the rest of the game, but we didn't; we picked right back up in the next inning. One of our questions was trying to find a leadoff hitter, and I think Fowler, hopefully, going forward, will be that guy for us and get us started."


Crabtree picked up the win, pitching four innings, striking out five, walking two and allowing one hit.

"Early on, his fastball command was really good," Avalon commented. "He was up to 94 mph with the fastball and did a good job of competing and throwing strikes. For a freshman to go out and pitch like that, I am very proud of him."

Knight struck out two batters in two innings in relief.

"I am proud of him because he redshirted last year. He paid his dues, for him to go out there and see where he worked hard, he has really improved and turned himself into someone who has really helped us."

Robertson was 2-for-3 from the plate, scoring one run. Fowler was 2-for-4 with one RBI and two stolen bases. Alex Wade was 1-for-1, with two RBIs, on base on balls, and two runs scored.



The Wildcat offense used a mixture of the long ball and short game to manufacture the offense in a 6-3 victory over Florida Southwestern State (2-4 overall).

After pitcher JP Robertson (Madison; Germantown) struck out two Buccaneer batters in the top of the first inning, the Wildcats took no time to put runs on the board in the bottom of the inning.

Fowler took the third pitch he saw deep over the right field wall to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. Creek Robertson needed fewer pitches to match Fowler's feat, taking the first pitch he saw in the contest over the right field wall as well, 2-0. In the next at-bat, Hollis Porter (Hurley; East Central) sent the second pitch of his at-bat deep off the left field wall for a double.

The Buccaneers cut the lead in half in the top of the second with a home run over the right field fence, 2-1. JP Robertson settled down and retired the following three batters to close the inning.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Porter sent the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the third deep over the right field wall for a solo home run, 3-1.

The Wildcats relied on strong defense to keep the Buccaneers at bay. With two runners on, Wade tracked down a fly ball in right field; a strong throw by Wade kept the runners on second and third from advancing. After JP Robertson struck out a third batter in the game, infielder Creek Robertson turned in a defensive gem for the third out of the inning. Robertson tracked down a groundball in the gap and made a long throw to first for the final out of the inning, 3-1.

The Wildcats moved from the long ball to a short game to manufacture two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Following a double by Ince, Wade laid down a picture-perfect bunt between the pitcher and baseline for a single. Ince scored, and Wade advanced to second on a throwing error, 4-1. Wade advanced to third on the next at-bat on a passed ball. Giger scored Wade on another textbook bunt down the third baseline, 5-1.

The Buccaneers' offense kept Florida Southwestern in the game with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 5-3.

With Creek Robertson on first in the bottom of the fifth, Porter hit his second double of the game to left field, advancing Robertson to third. A Logan Terry (Semmes, Ala.; East Central) sacrifice grounder to the Buccaneer shortstop scored Robertson to give the Wildcats a 6-3 lead.

Pearl River called on Adam Tommasini (Madison; Madison Central) and Blake Gollott (Saucier; D'Iberville) to close out the game in relief, giving the Wildcats a 6-3 victory.

"That is something we worked on this year; I think our players are different. We are going to hit some home runs. We have the right baseball players who can handle the bat and make things happen in certain situations," Avalon on the Wildcat game two offense. "Today, we knew they were a good club, and we needed to keep putting pressure on them, and those safety bunts were crucial."


Porter was 3-for-3 on the day with one home run, two doubles, one run scored and one RBI.

"He is a force in the middle for us, and we know that," Avalon said of Porter.

Creek Robertson was 1-for-2 from the plate with one home run, two runs scored and one RBI."Creek, one of the things you talk about is defense, and that is where he is really special," Avalon said of Robertson. "But what he is bringing to the table for us offensively through the first four games this season."

In JP Robertson's first career start for the Wildcats, Robertson pitched five complete innings, striking out three batters."Florida Southwestern, especially from the offensive side, for the junior college level, is as physical and offensive as any other team you will see," Avalon commented of Robertson's performance. "So, when JP went out there in his first start as a freshman, I was impressed with his command and composure. I told him that that two-run home run in the fifth was on me. He made some really good pitches. His stuff was good against a really good team. I was proud of how he handled everything."


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