River splits with East Central

            POPLARVILLE — The fifth-ranked Pearl River Wildcats split with East Central in MACJC South Division baseball action here Saturday, falling to the visiting Warriors 6-2 in the opening game of the doubleheader before bouncing back with a high-scoring 12-11 victory in the nightcap.
            PRCC is now 26-10 overall and 9-5 in division play, while ECCC is 18-15 and 10-4 — tied for first place in the division with Jones County. The River is currently in second place in the South.
            In the first game, things were scoreless for the first two-and-a-half innings before the Wildcats went up 1-0 in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Darius Knight of Pearl High was hit by a pitch; while Paul Pickerrell out of John Hardin High in Elizabethtown, Ky., followed with a walk. The duo advanced the bases off a passed ball, setting the stage for an RBI single to right by Krisjon Wilkerson out of St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis. Forrest Dungan of Columbia High then grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
            That one-run edge remained intact until the top of the seventh when East Central opened the floodgates with a six-run barrage. Xzavier Franklin led off the inning with an up-the-middle base hit and moved to second off Kyle Henson’s sacrifice bunt before John Morgan Berry singled. After Wildcat starter Christian Talley, a Southern Miss signee who prepped at Hancock County High, walked Caleb Woods to load the bases, Ryan Shotts belted a two_run double to left to make it 2-1.
            That prompted Talley’s mound exit for Nicholls State signee Ryan Deemes out of Holy Cross High in Chalmette, La. Kalik May pushed a run home after reaching on a fielder’s choice before Deemes struck out Chase Domino, then rendered a fourth run when Rubert Alcantara reached on another fielder’s choice. With the bases still loaded, Franklin arrived at the plate for the second time in the inning and crushed a two_run, up-the-middle single to make it 6-1 before May was nailed at third for the final out.
            In the bottom of the frame, Joe Kirkland of Moss Point High crushed a one-out double to the right field wall, Darien Brown of Hattiesburg followed with a single, and Kirkland scored from third off a sacrifice fly by Braxton Lee of Picayune High for the final run of the game.
 
            Warrior starter Fernando Gonzales picked up the win in his six-and-one-third innings on the mound, giving up five hits, striking out three, and walking two; while Deione Ulmer relieved for the final two-thirds of the seventh.
            Talley (5-4) got the loss in his six-and-one-thirds innings, giving up six hits, striking out five, and walking one; while Deemes pitched the final two-thirds of the seventh, giving up a hit, striking out one, and walking a batter.
            Franklin (two RBIs) and Shotts (two RBIs) paced the Warriors’ seven-hit effort with two singles each, while Tim Anderson (one RBI), Berry, and Terrance Steele all had base hits. Alcantara and May both had RBIs.
            Each team committed one error in the game.
            In the nightcap, East Central left runners at second and third in the top of the first, while both squads left solo runners on in the bottom of the opening frame and the top of the second.
            In the bottom of the second, the Wildcats bombarded the Warriors with a whopping seven runs. Fourteen River batters went to the plate in the inning, including four making two appearances a piece.
            Nathan Pugh of Starkville High got The River rolling when he reached after ECCC booted a routine fly ball to right field, then Kyle Dolan of Forrest County AHS walked. Kirkland followed with an RBI double to center field for the first run before Brown belted an RBI single. Lee then pushed in a third run with a double, which saw the mound exit of starter Blake Dubuisson for Mitchell Wooten, who immediately gave up a two-run single to Knight to make it 5-0.
            Pickerrell followed with a double to right and Wilkerson reached on a fielder’s choice when Knight was thrown out at home. Dungan then singled in Pickerrell from third and Pugh scored Wilkerson when he reached on an error. After Wooten hit Dolan with a pitch to load the bases, Brady McBride arrived in relief and retired Kirkland via a fly out to center to end the inning with Pearl River up 7-0.
            In the bottom of the third, McBride put Brown on with a walk and Lee singled. Ty Hendrix relieved at that point. The Wildcat base runners advanced on a double steal and Brown was nailed at home when Pickerrell reached on a fielder’s choice before Hendrix struck out Wilkerson to end the inning.
            The Warriors managed catch up runs in the top of the fourth when Franklin cracked a two-out single to right center and Berry followed with a two-run homer over the right field wall to make it 7-2. Maxwell Harmon answered with a base hit and Steele walked before starter Brandon Fry, a Southern Miss signee out of Nease High in Jacksonville, Fla., retired Shotts for the final out.
            Dungan led off the bottom of the frame with a base on balls and moved to second on a passed ball, which saw Jordan Mixon relieve McBride. An out later, Dungan moved to third off Dolan’s ground out to short before Kirkland flew out to center to end the inning.
            East Central added a solo run in the top of the fifth when Tim Anderson drew a one_out walk, moved to second on Domino’s ground out, and scored off a Wildcat error. Cameron Reynolds of Gulfport High relieved Fry at that point and immediately gave up a line-drive base hit to left center to Franklin before Berry hit into a force out.
            After Pearl River went three up, three down in the bottom of the frame, ECCC rebounded with a stunning seven runs in the top of the sixth.
            Harmon reached on an error to lead off the inning, then Steele outran a bunt for a base hit. The duo advanced on base via Shotts sac bunt before May crushed a two-run double to right and Anderson followed with a one-run, up-the-middle single to cut The River’s lead to one.
            Left hander Bubba Stockstill of Pearl River Central High then arrived in relief and he walked Domino — the only batter he would face — and Jake Brumfield out of Adams Christian Academy in Natchez took over the mound. Brumfield then belted Alcantara with a throw to load the bases, setting the stage for Franklin’s grand slam home run over the left field wall to put the Warriors up 10-7. Brumfield then struck out Berry before Harmon popped to short for the final out.
            But the Wildcats showed resiliency. Pickerrell led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, Wilkerson walked, and Dungan singled to right to load the bases. That set the stage for Pugh’s three-run double to tie it up at 10-all. With Pugh perched at third, Derek Martin of Poplarville High then singled and Pugh scored off Kirkland’s ground out to second to put PRCC up 11-10.
            Ulmer relieved Mixon at that point and he immediately gave up an RBI double to left by Brown before retiring two straight to end the inning.
            Deemes saw his second relief stint of the afternoon to start the seventh. After lead off Caleb Woods grounded out to short, Deemes walked Shotts and hit May with a pitch. After Anderson flew out to right, the Warrior runners advanced to second and third via a double steal and Domino timely followed with a double. Shotts easily scored East Central’s 11th run, but May failed to touch home plate and was the final out of the game.
            Brumfield (6-0) got the win after pitching two-thirds of the sixth, giving up the grand slam homer and striking out one; while Fry went four-and-two-thirds, giving up four hits, striking out three, and walking six. Reynolds gave up four hits in his two-thirds of an inning, giving up four hits; while Stockstill walked the only batter he faced in the sixth. Deemes got the save, giving up a hit and walking a batter.
            Mixon got the loss in relieving in the fourth, going two-and-a-third, giving up three hits, striking out one, and walking one; while starter Dubuisson went one-and-a-third, giving up three hits and a walk. Woodrow pitched one-third of the second, giving up four hits and a walk; while McBride went one-third of the second with a base hit and a walk. Hendrix pitched two-thirds of the sixth and gave up a hit.
            ECCC finished with 10 hits, led by Franklin’s grand slam and two singles (four RBIs), while Anderson had two base hits (one RBI), Berry homered (two RBIs), May doubled (two RBIs), and Domino (one RBI), Harmon, and Steele all had singles.
            Pickerrell paced Pearl River’s 12-hit effort with a double and two singles, while Brown (two RBIs) and Lee (one RBI) both doubled and singled. Dungan has two base hits (one RBI), Kirkland (two RBIs) and Pugh (three RBIs) both doubled, and Knight singled (two RBIs).
            The Warriors committed four errors in the game to the Wildcats’ three.
            PRCC and ECCC split an earlier twin bill played March 12 in Decatur. The Wildcats won the first game 10-0, while the Warriors were 10-1 victors in the second.
            Pearl River returns to action Tuesday when division foe Copiah-Lincoln visits Wildcat Stadium Tuesday for a 4 p.m. doubleheader before traveling to arch-rival division rival Mississippi Gulf Coast in Perkinston Saturday for a 3 p.m. twin bill.

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