By Stan Caldwell
PRCC Sports Information
POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College had to settle for less than it wanted Friday at Dub Herring Park, splitting an MACJC doubleheader with Mississippi Delta.
The Wildcats rocked to a 12-4 victory in eight innings in the opener, but dropped a 4-3 decision in the nightcap.
Sixth-ranked PRCC (27-7) remains in first place in the MACJC standings at 13-3 in conference play, but a pack of teams are nipping at the Wildcats' heels, led by second place Jones County, which is just a game behind. MDCC (14-19, 6-10) remains in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Freshman Luke Harper (Meridian) drove in four runs and redshirt sophomore Bryson Medious (Columbia) had four singles to pace Pearl River in the first game. Sophomore Simon Landry (Ponchatoula, La.) smacked his 14th home run of the season in Game 2.
Freshman Shemar Page (Raleigh) got off to a rocky start in Game 1, giving up three runs in the top of the first inning on a single, two walks and a three-run double.
But Harper answered in the bottom of the second, driving in three runs with a triple, after redshirt freshman Matt Taylor (Raleigh) led off with an infield single, followed by walks to freshman Wiley Cleland (Columbia) and sophomore Scooter Ginn (Columbia).
Sophomore Derek Eberly (Blountstown, Fla.) got Harper home on a sacrifice fly to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Page (7-1) settled down and showed the form that made him national Pitcher of the Week last week. He went six innings, gave up five hits, struck out four and walked three.
His defense came to his rescue with one out in the fourth, when leftfielder Medious and shortstop Eberly teamed up to throw out a base-runner trying to stretch a double into a triple.
PRCC added a run in the fifth on an RBI single by freshman Noah Barron (Hoover, Ala.), then scored two runs in the sixth on run-scoring singles by freshman Magruder O'Bannon (Long Beach) and Medious.
The Wildcats scored three runs in the seventh on RBI singles by Ginn and Harper, along with an error on a double-play ball to shortstop, then scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth, after Delta scored in the top of the eighth.
Medious led off with a single, took third on a double by Landry and scored on Taylor's sacrifice fly, then Landry came home on a double steal to take an eight-run lead and end the game on the run-rule.
In the nightcap, the Trojans broke a scoreless tie in the third, with a run on a hit and an error off Wildcat sophomore Drake Nightengale (Sumrall).
Pearl River answered in the bottom of the third, scoring twice. Eberly singled with one out, took second on a passed ball, went to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch. Landry followed with a towering shot over the fence in left-centerfield.
Each team scored a run in the fifth, Delta scoring after a leadoff double and a walk sent PRCC calling for sophomore Colby White (Foxworth) out of the bullpen.
White let a run come in when he threw away a sacrifice bunt attempt, and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out.
But White got strikeouts to end the inning and the Wildcats gave him a one-run lead when O'Bannon led off with a single and scored on Eberly's single.
However, Eberly was tagged out trying to stretch his hit into a double, and that proved costly when Mississippi Delta scored twice in the sixth, the first runs White (3-2) had allowed since March 7.
After getting two quick outs, the Trojans got a single and a double, then a passed ball allowed the tying run to come in, and a single put the Trojans ahead.
That was all the advantage MDCC starter Devontae Rhodes needed, finishing a complete-game effort by retiring the Wildcats in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
Pearl River hits the road for a key doubleheader against Hinds at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Wildcats will be back home at 2 p.m. next Saturday to face East Mississippi.