POPLARVILLE – Pearl River”s Wildcats are headed to the post-season playoffs after demolishing Mississippi Gulf Coast 14-6 in a one-game playoff here Monday to decide the No. 4 seed in the MACJC South Division.The Wildcats, who were knotted at 12-12 in division play with the visiting Bulldogs after regular-season play ended Saturday, heads to North Division champ Itawamba in Fulton this weekend to kickoff a best-of-three series with the Indians. The first game is set for 5 p.m. Friday with the second at 2 p.m. Saturday. Should a third contest be needed, it will start immediately after the second.Gulf Coast ends its season at 28-16 overall, while Pearl River is now 22-25.Jones County had already claimed the South title at 17-7 in league play, while Hinds is second at 15-9 and East Central third at 14-10. Other playoff series this weekend include South No. 1 JCJC hosting North No. 4 Northwest Mississippi, South No. 2 Hinds hosting North No. 3 Northeast Mississippi, and North No. 2 Holmes hosting South No. 3 East Central.The winners of each series cop berths in the MACJC State Tournament set for May 13-15 at the home field of the highest-seeded North playoff series winner.In Monday”s game, the Wildcats rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the second inning, bombarding the Bulldogs will five runs to go up 8-3 and never looked back.Gulf Coast”s Jeremy Hill blasted a towering two-out solo homer over the right center field wall in the top of the opening inning to put the Bulldogs up 1-0, but Pearl River answered in the bottom of the frame. Matthew Magee of Petal High drew a two-out walk off MGCCC starter Kenneth Atwood before Temple Harvey of Brandon High followed with a two-run home out of left center to put PRCC up by one.Southern Miss signee Ashley Graeter of Poplarville High then walked and scored off a center field single by Zach Farrar of Brandon High before Bryn Whitehead of Sumrall High struck out to end the inning.But the Bulldogs showed resiliency in the top of the second. After lead off Corey Groue grounded out to second, Brandon Cavataio walked and Atwood followed with a single to left. Both advanced to second and third off Will White”s ground out, setting the stage for Ty Lain”s two-run double to left to knot things up at 3-3.Starter Buck Bernard of Petal High, who went the nine-inning distance for the Wildcats, then intentionally walked Hill before Patrick Kirkland smashed a two-RBI shot to center to put the Bulldogs up 5-3 only to be nailed a third attempting stretch his double into a triple for the third out.In the bottom of the frame, the floodgates opened. Atwood loaded the bases off a lead off single by Grae Orman of Clinton High and back-to-back base on balls by Matt Linton of East Central High and Jake Hawkins of Sumrall High before exiting the mound for reliever Jordan Steele.B.J. Smith of Sumrall High drove in Orman with a ground out to second before Magee”s sacrifice fly scored Linton to tie it up. Harvey”s ensuing RBI single to left gave the Wildcats a one-run lead, before Graeter reached after being belted by a pitch, Farrar hit an RBI single to left, and a balk by Steele pushed in another run to make it 8-5. Whitehead”s fly out to right ended the inning.To start the bottom of the third, Steele was relieved by Bryan Babin, who immediately gave up a lead off double to left center to Orman and a single down the third-base line to Linton. Orman scored when Hawkins reached on an error before Harvey cracked an RBI single to right two outs later to make it 10-5. Graeter flew out to center to end the inning.In the bottom of the sixth, Babin loaded the bases off a Magee walk and singles by Harvey and Graeter and was relieved by Nick Purdy at that point, but the Wildcats couldn”t push a run home.In the bottom of the seventh, Linton smacked a one-out, line drive single to center and Hawkins followed with a base hit to left, setting the stage for B.J. Smith”s two-run triple off the right field wall. Magee sacrificed Smith home to make it 13-5 before Tyler Buckley relieved Purdy and immediately put Harvey and Graeter on with hit by pitches. Farrar followed with an RBI single for the Wildcats” 14th run before Whitehead popped to short for the final out.Gulf Coast managed a solo run in the top of the eighth when Derek Davis cracked a one-out single to right and scored an out later off a single by Groue, who was thrown out at second by PRCC catcher Farrar trying to stretch his run-scoring base hit into a double.Michael Baxter pitched the bottom of the frame for the Bulldogs and gave up a one-out single to Linton before Ethan Ewoldt of Oak Grove High hit into a double play. Gulf Coast left runners at first and second off a Ross Weathers lead off single and a Jann Butler two-out walk, but Bernard struck out Bryan Wilson to end the game.Bernard (6-3) struck out four and walked four in going the distance for the Wildcats, while Atwood (1-3) got the loss in his one inning on the mound. Atwood struck out one and walked four before Steele relieved in the second (one hit batter), Babin in the third (one strikeout, one walk), Purdy in the fifth, Buckley in the seventh (two hit batters), and Baxter in the eighth.Gulf Coast finished with 11 hits, led by Derek Davis” three singles, while Kirkland had two doubles (two RBIs). Groue had two singles (one RBI), Hill homered (one RBI), Lain Doubled (two RBIs), and Atwood and Weathers both had singles.Harvey paced the Wildcats” 15-hit attack with a homer and three singles (four RBIs), while Farrar (four RBIs) and Linton both had three base hits each. Orman doubled and singled, B.J. Smith tripled (three RBIs), and Graeter (one RBI) and Hawkins (one RBI) both had singles. Magee also had an RBI for PRCC.Each team committed one error in the game.
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