POPLARVILLE The Josh Hoffpauir era of Pearl River Community College baseball kicked off in grand style here Tuesday, as his Wildcats swept Bishop State (Ala.) 10-9 and 10-0 in their season openers. Hoffpauir, who was an assistant at The River the past three seasons, succeeded Jamie McMahon as the PRCC diamond boss this past fall when McMahon resigned to accept an assistant coaching position at Nicholls State University. Freshman Aaron Lee of Pearl River Central cracked a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the Wildcats to the 10-9 victory in the first game of the twin bill, while sophomore righthander Robert Marzoni of Purvis High pitched a two-hitter in the six-inning (10-run rule) nightcap contest. In the opening game, BSCC went up 1-0 in the top of the second when lead off Chris Ambrosio reached on an error, Mallan Sheffield cracked a double down the third base line, and Joshua Baxter sacrificed Ambrosio home a strikeout later. After PRCC went three up, three down in the bottom of the frame, Bishop padded its lead to 2-0 in the third when Dario James smacked a one-out single to center field and scored an out later off Jorge Jaramillo double to center. But the Wildcats answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning. Lee and Ethan Ewoldt of Oak Grove High led off with back-to-back base hits before Jordan Williams out of Christian County High in Hopkinsville, Ky., reached on a fielder choice. James Abraham, a Southeastern Louisiana transfer who prepped at St. Stanislaus, followed with a walk to load the bases before designated hitter B.J. Smith was belted by a pitch a strikeout later to push in Pearl River first run. Casey Comfort of Oak Grove High followed with a grand slam homer over the left center field wall to put The River up 5-2. Grae Ormon of Clinton High walked before Chase Lewallen of Sumrall High struck out to end the inning. After a scoreless fourth, Bishop State played catch up when Chase Fremin cracked a one-out double to left center, moved to third on James ground out, and scored off Cory Waters up-the-middle single to cut PRCC lead to 5-3 before Jaramillo grounded to short for the final out. BSCC took the lead with a four-run effort in the top of the sixth. Sheffield got things going with a one-out single before scoring off Baxter single to left. That prompted the mound exit for Wildcat starter Buck Bernard of Petal High for Josh Hubbell of Forrest County AHS who immediately saw Kristopher Matsoukas reach on an error before Fremin tied it up at 5-5 off a single to right. Sidewinder Hunter Curtis relieved Hubbell at that point and the freshman from Oak Grove High immediately gave up an RBI single to James before BSCC went up 7-5 off a wild pick off throw to third base. Curtis retired Waters for the final out. But the Wildcats retaliated in the bottom of the inning. Lewallen led off with a single to left, then Lee reached after being hit by a pitch. An out later, Williams reached on an error, scoring Lewallen, and Abraham followed with a two-run double off the left field wall to give PRCC a one-run lead. Abraham scored off a fielding error to make it 9-7 Pearl River after six. BSCC showed resilience. In the top of the final frame, Jaramillo led off with a single to right before Ambrosio walked. Sheffield followed with a single, scoring Jaramillo, then Ambrosio scored on an errant pick off throw to knot it up at 9-9. Beau Underwood out of St. Patrick High in Biloxi relieved Curtis at that point and immediately gave up an up-the-middle single to Wilroy Ratcliff, putting runners at first and third. But Underwood shined, striking out three straight to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the seventh, Chase Toussaint of Petal High drew a one-out walk and scored the winning run an out later off Lee timely single. Underwood (1-0) got the win, giving up a hit and striking out three; while Bernard gave up three hits and struck out five in his five-and-two-thirds innings on the mound. Hubbell gave up a hit, while Curtis gave up three hits and walked a batter. Sheffield (0-1) got the loss, giving up one hit and walking a batter; while Travis Holland started and went three innings, giving up four hits, striking out two, walking one, and hitting a batter. Corey Henning relieved in the fourth and went two frames, striking out three and walking two; while Arthur Bacon pitched the sixth, giving up three hits, walking one and hitting a batter. Sheffield paced Bishop State 13-hit effort with a double and two singles (one RBI), while Fremin and Jaramillo both doubled and singled. Waters had two base hits (one RBI), while Joshua Baker (two RBIs) and Ratcliff both had singles. The Wildcats finished with seven hits, led by Comfort grand slam homer (four RBIs). Lee had two base hits (one RBI), Abraham (two RBIs) and Matthew Magee of Petal High both doubled, and Ewoldt and Lewallen both had base hits. Smith and Williams also had RBIs for PRCC. Pearl River committed four errors in the game to Bishop State two. In the nightcap, Pearl River scored three runs in the bottom of the second, one in the fourth, three in the fifth, and a game-ending three in the sixth. Marzoni (1-0) struck out seven and walked one in his two-hit effort, while starter Sheffield got his second loss of the day. He pitched three innings, striking out three, walking three, and hitting a batter; before Joshua Baxter relieved in the fourth (three strike outs, five walks) and Waters relieved in the sixth (one walk, two hit batters). Holland doubled for Bishop and Sheffield singled, while Abraham led the Wildcats 10-hit attack with a double and a single (two RBIs). Williams had two base hits (two RBIs), Ewoldt doubled (two RBIs), and Comfort, Lee, Lewallen, Magee (one RBI), and Jose Sola of Aguadilla, P.R. (two RBIs), all had singles. Bishop State committed two errors in the contest, while Pearl River played error-free. The Wildcats return to action Saturday with a road trip to MACJC foe East Mississippi in Scooba for a 1 p.m. doubleheader, then eyes a 2 p.m. rematch with Bishop in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday. That twin bill will be played at the University of South Alabama.
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