Wildcats split with Cougars

            POPLARVILLE — Tenth-ranked Pearl River split with Illinois Central here Sunday with the visiting Cougars taking a lopsided 12-3 victory in the first game before the Wildcats bounced back with a 7-0 shutout win in the nightcap.
            PRCC improved to 14-4 overall, while ICC out of Peoria, Ill., is 4-3.
            In the first game, the Cougars jumped out front quickly with three runs in the top of the first and the Wildcats couldn’t catch up.
            Things got started with Justin Fletcher outran a two-out bunt for a base hit and scored off Alex Gutierrez’s ensuing double to center. Gutierrez scored off J.P. Meyers’ single, while Luke Lucchetti doubled in Myers to make it 3-0. After Jared Pyatt was hit by a pitch, Nick Hammerl lined a single to center field, but Lucchetti was nailed at home by catcher Krisjon Wilkerson of St. Stanislaus for the final out.
            Pearl River scored its first run in the bottom of the frame when Braxton Lee of Picayune High wound up at second off a hard-hit single through short, moved to third off Darius Knight’s ground out to short, and scored off Paul Pickerrell’s ground out to second. Wilkerson and Forrest Dungan of Columbia High followed with walks before starter Ryan Vansaghi K’d Joe Kirkland of Moss Point High to end the inning.
            After ICC went three up, three down in the top of the second; PRCC cut the Cougars’ lead to one in the bottom of the frame. Kollin Cannon of St. Stanislaus led off with a single to center and wound up at third off Ivan Garcia’s sacrifice bunt. After Derek Martin of Poplarville High walked, stole second, and Cannon scored off Lee’s ground out to second to make it 3-2. Knight, out of Pearl High, grounded out to third to end the inning.
            In the top of the third, Gutierrez and Meyer smacked one-out singles and Pyatt reached on an error a strikeout later to load the bases. Starter Ryan Deemes, a Nicholls State (La.) signee who prepped at Holy Cross High in Chalmette, La., pushed Illinois Central’s fourth run home when he belted Hammerl with a pitch before striking out Dylan Vanfleet for the final out.
            The 4-2 score remained intact until the top of the fifth when Meyer led off with a double down the third-base line and Pyatt singled to left an out later. That prompted the mound exit of Deemes for Bradley Rayborn of Purvis High, who walked two of the four batters he faced.
 
            With runners at first and third, ICC scored its fifth run off a wild pitch before Rayborn’s two base on balls loaded the bases. Anthony Lucso of Bay High relieved at that point, striking out Brad Burton to end the scoring threat.
            After the Wildcats went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning, the Cougars bombarded The River with five in the top of the sixth. Lusco gave up back-to-back singles to Fletcher and Gutierrez before striking out Meyer, but Lucchetti doubled in Fletcher to make it 6-2. Cameron Reynolds of Gulfport High took over the mound and he immediately gave up a two-run double to Pyatt, an RBI double to Vanfleet an out later, and a single by Zach Jacobs before ICC scored its 10th run off a passed ball. Burton then flew to left field for the final out.
            In the bottom of the sixth, Wilkerson smashed a one-out double to right, Dungan outran an infield grounder for a base hit, and pinch runner Darien Brown of Hattiesburg High scored off a sacrifice fly to left by Kirkland for the Wildcats final run. Garcia, a freshman shortstop out of Katy (Tex.) High, followed with an up-the-middle base hit to load the corners, but Vansanghi K’d Martin to end the inning.
            Phillip Chandler of Stone County High relieved Reynolds to start the seventh. Gutierrez drew a one-out walk and Lucchetti singled a strikeout later, setting the stage for Pyatt’s two-run double to the left field fence to make it 12-3. Hammerl grounded to Chandler for the final out.
            In the bottom of the frame, T.R. Dunne relieved Vansaghi. Lee led off with an up-the-middle single, Knight popped out to center, and Pickerrell, a freshman out of John Hardin High in Elizabethtown, Ky., was hit by a pitch before Wilkerson hit into a double play to end the game.
            Vansaghi (1-0) got the win in his six innings on the mound, giving up six hits, striking out two, and walking four; while Dunne gave up a hit and hit one batter in the seventh.
            Deemes (1-2) got the loss in his four-and-a-third innings, giving up 11 hits, striking out two, walking one, and hitting three batters. Rayborn walked two of the four batters he faced in the fifth, while Lusco gave up three hits and struck out two in his two-thirds of an inning in the fifth. Reynolds pitched two-thirds of an inning after relieving in the sixth, giving up three hits; while Chandler gave up two hits, struck out one, and walked on in the seventh.
            Lucchetti (two RBIs) and Pyatt (four RBIs) paced the Cougars at the plate with each belting two doubles and a single, while Gutierrez (one RBI) and Meyer (two RBIs) doubled and had two singles each. Fletcher had three base hits, Zach Jacobs two, Vanfleet a double (one RBI), and Hammerl a single.
            ICC played error free, while PRCC committed three defensive miscues.
            In the nightcap game, freshman starter Jake Brumfield out of Adams Christian Academy in Natchez hurled a three-hitter, striking out five, to improve to 3-0 on the year.
            Pearl River scored one on the first, two in the second, two in the fourth, and solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take the 7-0 victory.
            Cougar starter Brandon McIntyre (0-1) got the loss, while Ryan Wargo and Jake Light saw relief duty.
            Garcia (one RBI), Martin (one RBI), and Pickerrell (two RBIs) all doubled for the Wildcats; while Lee and Wilkerson both had RBIs.
            Pearl River opens its MACJC South Division schedule Tuesday when it travels to East Central in Decatur Tuesday in a 3 p.m. doubleheader before Copiah-Lincoln plays host in Wesson for another division twin bill Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.

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