Wildcats split with Bulldogs

POPLARVILLE Pearl River split with Mississippi Gulf Coast in MACJC South Division doubleheader baseball action here Wednesday, routing the visiting Bulldogs 8-1 in the first game before falling 5-2 in the nightcap. It marked the second split of the year between the arch rivals, as the Wildcats were 3-0 winners March 17 in Perkinston before falling 4-3 in the second contest. PRCC is now 21-15 overall and 6-10 in division play, while MGCCC is 19-17 and 7-9. Wildcat starter Christian Talley, a University of Alabama transfer who prepped at Hancock County High, fired a three hitter in Wednesday opening game to take the seven-run victory; while Gulf Coast Jordan Mata relieved with two outs in the third of the second contest and struck out an amazing 11 of the 15 Pearl River batters he faced. Despite Mata effort, Bulldog starter Stuart Holmes picked up the mound victory. In the first game, The River went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first when Chase Toussaint of Petal High cracked a one-out single and wound up at second via an error before scoring off single to right by Chase Lewallen of Sumrall High. Lewallen wound up at second off MGCCC futile attempt to nail Toussaint at home before moving to third off a ground out by Chad Livingston, a Southeastern Louisiana transfer who prepped at Slidell (La.) High. An out later, Lewallen scored off a passed ball before starter Jarred Gates struck out Matt Linton of East Central High to end the inning. The Bulldogs managed their first base runner of the game in the top of the second off a two-out single by Dieter Hamilton, while the Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame but couldnt pad their lead. Lead off Marcus Lawton Jr., PRCC designated hitter out of Biloxi High, was belted by a pitch, then Ryan Best of Oak Grove High and Braxton Lee of Picayune High drew back-to-back walks two outs later. Toussaint lined out to second to end the inning. After a scoreless third, Daniel Miles crushed a two-out homer in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1 before Pearl River added two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Aaron Lee of Pearl River Central High and Krisjohn Wilkerson out of St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis led off with back-to-back doubles to make it 3-1 then Best outran a bunt for a base hit, moving courtesy runner DaVonte Linear of Wayne County High to third. Braxton Lee then reached on a fielder choice, scoring Linear, before Gates retired two straight to end the inning. In the bottom of the fifth, Livingston led off with a single to right center field, which prompted the mound exit of Gates for Jason McDonald, who immediately hit Linton with a pitch. Wildcat base runners moved to second and third off a sacrifice bunt by Clint Willoughby of Clinton High before Wilkerson crushed a three-run home an out later to make it 7-1. Best walked, but Braxton Lee grounded to second for the final out. After Gulf Coast went three up, three down in the top of the sixth; Lewallen reached on a one-out error in the bottom of the frame and Livingston singled. Both runners advanced off a passed ball before Lewallen scored the game final run off Linton sacrifice fly to right. Wilkerson flew out to center to end the inning. Talley retired two straight in the top of the seventh to ice the victory. Talley (3-1) got the win in going the distance, giving up three hits, striking out four, and walking one; while Gates (6-2) got the loss. He pitched two-and-two-thirds, giving up six hits, striking out four, walking three, and hitting a batter; while reliever McDonald gave up two hits and recorded a walk and a hit batter. Miles homered for the Bulldogs, while Hamilton and Joey Harris singled. Wilkerson paced the Wildcats eight-hit effort with a home run and a double (four RBIs), while Livingston had two singles, Aaron Lee doubled, and Best, Lewallen (one RBI), and Toussaint all had base hits. Linton also had an RBI for Pearl River. PRCC committed two errors in the game to MGCCC one. In the second game, Gulf Coast went up 2-0 in the top of the second when Miles led off with a single and stole second before Joey Harris cracked a base hit. With runners and first and third, Hamilton doubled to center to drive in the first run before Harris scored off Hunter Frierson ground out to second an out later. Courtesy runner Breland Booker was nailed at home on an attempted steal for the final out. Wilkerson managed a two-out single in the bottom of the frame, while the Bulldogs padded their lead by two in the top of the second. Lead off Taylor Hardy outran a bunt for a base hit, moved to second off a passed ball, and scored when J.C. Cassidy singled, winding up at second off a throwing error. After starter Taylor Byrd, a Nicholls State (La.) signee who prepped at Petal High, struck out Ben Slaton, Miles doubled-in Cassidy to make it 4-0. Harris followed with a base on balls, but Hamilton hit into a force out. In the bottom of the inning, Austin Carter of Sumrall High and Best led off with singles down the third-base line and Braxton Lee followed with an up-the-middle base hit to load the bases. Holmes then walked Toussaint to push in The River first run. After Lewallen struck out, Livingston reached on a fielder choice to score Best. Mata arrived on the mound at that point and retired Linton to end the inning. Over the next four frames, Mata, a freshman righthander out of Biloxi High, retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced. Wilkerson managed a lead off double in the bottom of the seventh for the only hit off Mata, who recorded three straight Ks in the fourth and fifth. Miles crushed a two-out homer for the Bulldogs in the fifth for the game final run. In the top of the final inning, Gilbert and Cassidy smacked one-out singles, which saw Scott Ashford out of Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La., arrive in relief of Byrd. Gilbert was thrown out at third on an attempted steal before Slaton flew to right for the final out. Holmes (4-5) picked up the win in his two-and-two-thirds innings on the mound, giving up four hits, striking out four, and walking two. Mata also walked a batter. Byrd (5-3) got the win in his six-and-a-third innings on the mound, giving up nine hits, striking out six, and walking two; while Ashford pitched the final two outs of the seventh. Miles led the Bulldogs eight-hit effort at the plate with a home run, a double, and a single (two RBIs); while Hamilton doubled (one RBI) and Cassidy (one RBI), Gilbert, Hardy, and Harris all had base hits. Frierson also had an RBI. PRCC finished with five hits, led by Wilkerson double and single; while Best, Carter, and Braxton Lee had base hits. Livingston had an RBI. Gulf Coast played an error-free game, while Pearl River committed one defensive miscue. The River returns to division play when it travels to Jones County in Ellisville Saturday for a 2 p.m. doubleheader before hosting division rival Copiah-Lincoln Saturday, April 21, for a 1 p.m. twin bill in Wildcat Stadium.

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