GOODMAN Pearl River Wildcats are one win away from earning a berth in next week MACJC State Tournament after handing host Holmes a 5-3 loss in the first game of a best-of-three playoff series here Friday.PRCC, the South Division No. 4 seed, improved to 28-19 with the victory; while HCC, the North Division No. 1 seed, fell to 27-15.The Wildcat-Bulldog match up is one of four best-of-three series underway in the MACJC. Elsewhere Friday, South No. 1 Jones County crushed North No. 4 East Mississippi 13-0 in five innings in Ellisville, South No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast canned North No. 3 Itawamba 10-2 in seven innings in Perkinston, and North No. 2 Northwest Mississippi was defeated by South No. 3 East Central 8-5 in Senatobia.The winners of the four series will play in May 12-14''s state tournament at the home field of the highest-seeded South Division team most likely Jones County.Southeastern Louisiana signee Buck Bernard of Petal High shined on the mound for the Wildcats, hurling eight innings, giving up five hits, striking out 11, and walking two.The host Bulldogs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Reggie OBriant cracked a one-out single to right center field and scored off Zach Pickett double to center. Pickett got nailed in a rundown between second and third when Brandon Villarreal reached on a fielder choice. Tyji Hawkins, Villarreal courtesy runner, was thrown out at second on an attempted steal to end the inning.After the second and third innings went scoreless, the Wildcats rallied for three in the top of the fourth. Lead off Matthew Magee of Petal High walked and B.J. Smith of Sumrall High followed with a single. Magee scored off an up-the-middle base hit by James Abraham, a Southeastern Louisiana transfer who prepped at St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, before Grae Ormon of Clinton High singled an out later to load the bases. Chase Toussaint of Petal High followed with a two-run single to make it 3-1 before HCC starter Chris Hutchinson struck out Aaron Lee of Pearl River Central and Jordan Williams out of Christian County High in Hopkinsville, Ky., flew to left for the final out.Holmes answered with a solo run in the bottom of the frame when OBriant drew a lead off walk and Pickett outran a bunt for a base hit. After Villarreal popped out and Bernard struck out Rafiel Johnson, a throwing error on a pick off at third scored OBriant to make it 3-2 before Bernard struck out Jermaine Liggins to end the inning.The Bulldogs tied it up in the bottom of the sixth when Josh Crowder led off with an up-the-middle single, moved to second off OBriant sac bunt, and scored off Pickett ensuing single to right field. Pickett stole second and moved to third off Villarreal ground out before Johnson walked, but Bernard struck out Liggins to end the inning.In the top of the seventh, Lee led off with a walk, Williams reached on a fielder choice, and Chase Lewallen of Sumrall High cracked back-to-back singles to give PRCC a 4-3 lead. At that point, Hutchinson relinquished the mound for reliever Jason Laxer who immediately struck out Smith before Abraham hit into a force out for the final out.After Holmes went three up, three down in the bottom of the frame; Pearl River scored its final run in the top of the eighth. Ormon drew a one-out walk before Toussaint reached on a fielder choice. Toussaint moved to second on a wild pick off throw, then to third on a passed ball before Lee walked. Toussaint scored off a wild pick off throw to second on a steal by Lee. Williams then reached after being belted by a pitch, which saw Laxer exit the mound for Patrick Stewart, who retired Lewallen with a fly out to left for the final out.HCC managed a base runner in the bottom of the eighth when OBriant reached on an error, while Liggins managed a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Jared Bond of Denham Springs (La.) High.Bernard (7-3) got win in his eight innings on the mound, while starter Hutchinson (6-4) got the loss. He went six-and-one-thirds innings, giving up nine hits, striking out three, and walking two; while Laxer relieved in the seventh. He went one-and-a-third, striking out one and walking two; while Stewart hit one batter.Magee (one RBI) and Smith paced the Wildcats at the plate with two singles each, while Abraham (one RBI), Lee, Lewallen, Ormon, and Toussaint (two RBIs) all had base hits.Pickett double and two singles (two RBIs) led Holmes, while Crowder, Liggins, and OBriant all singled.PRCC committed two errors in the game to HCC none.The second game of the best-of-three series is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. Should a third game be needed, it will be played immediately following.
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