Pearl River, Jones split ‘Cat Fight doubleheader

            POPLARVILLE — Fifth-ranked Pearl River split with 17th-ranked Jones County in MACJC South Division baseball action here Friday, falling 10-8 in the first game of the doubleheader before bouncing back with a 9-4 victory in the nightcap.
            With the split, the host Wildcats are now 23-9 overall and 6-4 in division play; while the Bobcats are 21-9 and a division-leading 9-3.
            Pearl River jumped out to an early lead in the opening game with four runs in the bottom of the first. Ole Miss signee Braxton Lee of Picayune High and Darius Knight of Pearl River led off with back-to-back base hits before Paul Pickerrell out of John Hardin High in Elizabethtown, Ky., walked to load the bases.
            A wild pitch scored Lee for the first run, then Krisjon Wilkerson out of St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis belted a three-run homer over the left field wall to make it 4-0. Forrest Dungan of Columbia High followed with a walk, moved to second on Kollin Cannon’s sac bunt, and on to third via a ground out by Darien Brown of Hattiesburg High; but was left stranded when Ivan Garcia of Katy (Tex.) High grounded out to third to end the inning.
            After a scoreless second, the Bobcats took the lead with five runs in the top of the third. Alex Shermer led off with a single to left, Collin Dexter reached on an error, and Stephen Stiglets outran a bunt for a base hit to load the bases. That set the stage for Trent Giambrone’s RBI single to right. Dexter scored off Codey Minter’s ground out to first and Benji Sullivan followed with a three-run homer to make it 5-4.
            Pearl River regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Garcia and Derek Martin of Poplarville High drew one-out walks. Lee then reached on a fielder’s choice before Pickerrell smacked a three-run double a strikeout later, but was left stranded when Wilkerson grounded out to short to end the inning.
 
            JCJC cut The River’s lead to one in the top of the fifth when Sullivan smashed a one-out double off the center field wall, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored when Josh Pankratz reached on yet another PRCC error. After Stark singled through short, Shermer flew to right for the final out.
            Cannon, out of St. Stanislaus, blasted a one-out, solo home run to make it 8-6 Pearl River in the bottom of the frame and Jones starter Westin Stringer exited the mound at that point for Jeremy Kidd, who retired two straight to end the inning.
            The Bobcats put two runners on in the top of the sixth via an error and a base on balls, but Minter hit into a double play the squash the threat; while PRCC went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning.
            In the seventh, Sullivan led off with a single to center field and Graves was beaned with a pitch. The duo moved to second and third via a double steal. Pankratz then lined out to short with Sullivan scoring when Stark reached on an error to make it 8-7.
            Starter Christian Talley, a Southern Miss signee who prepped at Hancock County, was relieved by Cameron Reynolds of Gulfport High at that point.
            Shermer immediately belted a two-run double down the left field line to give JCJC a one-run lead before he moved to third off Collin Dexter’s sac bunt and scored off Stiglets double down the left field line to make it 10-8.
            Reynolds K’d Giambrone for the final out, while Pearl River ended the game with three straight ground outs.
            Kidd (1-2) got the win in relief, going to 2.2 hitless innings and recorded a strikeout, while starter Stringer went four-and-a-third, giving up four hits, striking out two, and walking five.
            Talley (5-3) got the loss in his six-and-one-third innings on the mound, giving up 10 hits, striking out eight, and walking one; while Reynolds gave up two hits and struck out one in relief.
            Sullivan paced the Bobcats’ 12-hit effort with a homer, a double, and a single (three RBIs), while Shermer (two RBIs) and Stiglets (one RBI) both doubled and singled. Dexter, Giambrone (one RBI) Graves, Minter, and Stark all had base hits.
            Pearl River finished with four hits, led by Cannon (one RBI) and Wilkerson (three RBIs) with home runs; while Pickerrell doubled (two RBIs), and Lee singled.
            The Wildcats committed four errors in the contest to the Bobcats’ three.
            In the nightcap, the first two innings were scoreless before both squads scored two runs in the third.
            In the top of the third, Dexter led off with a single to right, Stiglets followed with a bunt single, and the duo advanced to second and third off Giambrone’s sac bunt. After Minter’s base on balls loaded the corners, Sullivan cracked an RBI single and Graves sacrificed to right for a second run before Pankratz grounded to short for the final out.
            In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Gonzales out of Warren Central High in Vicksburg led off with a line-drive single to center, moved to second a strikeout later on a wild pitch, and scored off a base hit by Brown. Lee then reached on a fielder’s choice, while Knight singled in the game-tying run, but was nailed at second on an attempted steal to end the inning.
            After Jones County went three up, three down in the top of the fourth; starter Pankratz was relieved by Ryan Milton in the bottom of the inning.
            Wilkerson got The River rolling when he lined a one-out single to right, stole second, and scored the go-ahead run off a base hit by Dungan. Dungan then moved to second and third via passed balls and after Nathan Pugh of Starkville High walked, Gonzales lined a double down the third-base line to make it 4-2 Pearl River.
            That prompted the arrival of Cole Barlow in relief, who immediately gave up an RBI sacrifice by Joe Kirkland of Moss Point High. Brown then walked and Lee was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Knight struck out to end the inning.
            The Wildcats added four more runs in the bottom of the fifth, while the Bobcats scored the game’s final two runs in the top of the sixth.
            Starter Brandon Fry (4-0) out of Nease High in Jacksonville, Fla., got the win in his five innings on the mound; giving up six hits, striking out three, and walking two. Nicholls State (La.) signee Ryan Deemes out of Holy Cross High in Chamlette, La., relieved in the sixth and recorded four strikeouts.
            Pankratz (2-2) was the losing pitcher in his three innings of action, giving up three hits and striking out one; while Milton pitched one-third of the fourth, giving up three hits and a walk. Barlow also relieved in the fourth, going one-and-a-third, giving up five hits, striking out one, and walking one; while Kyle East relieved in the sixth. He went one-and-a-third.
            JCJC finished with six hits, led by Pankratz’s two singles; while Dexter, Minter, Stiglets, and Sullivan (one RBI) all had base hits. Graves, Shermer, and Stark all had RBIs for the Bobcats.
            Gonzales paced the Wildcats’ 11-hit attack with a double and a single (two RBIs), while Brown had two singles (two RBIs), Kirkland doubled (two RBIs), and Dungan (one RBI), Knight (one RBI), Lee, Pickerrell, Pugh (one RBI), and Wilkerson all had base hits.
            Jones committed two errors in the game to Pearl River’s none.
            PRCC and JCJC eye a South Division rematch Tuesday, April 23, when the Bobcats play host with a 4 p.m. doubleheader in Ellisville.
            Pearl River returns to action Monday when Bishop State (Ala.) visits for a 4 p.m. doubleheader, then the Wildcats return to division play when Southwest Mississippi visits for a 4 p.m. twin bill.

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