ELLISVILLE, Miss. — The No. 7 Pearl River Wildcats turned in a complete effort in Game 2 on Friday to earn a split at No. 12 Jones College.
After falling 8-3 in Game 1, the Wildcats jumped on the Bobcats early to pick up a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
The defeat spoiled PRCC's best start to a season since the 2014 squad also opened the year 6-0.
"I thought that was a typical Jones-Pearl River rivalry day. I don't think we played our best in Game 1, but I think we learned a lot about our team," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "We look forward to seeing them in conference at The Dub."
Home runs were the name of the game early in Friday's opener.
Pearl River (7-1 overall) opened the scoring in the first, plating a run on a Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison) groundout.
The Bobcats (5-5) responded in the bottom of the frame, plating three runs on back-to-back homers for a 3-1 lead.
A two-out, two-run single in the second pushed JC's lead to 5-1.
Parker got a run back in the third, driving a one-out, 0-2 pitch deep over the left field wall. The Wildcats loaded the bases later in the inning but couldn't get the big hit they needed.
Jones College extended its lead to 7-2 on a two-out, two-run homer in the third.
Eric Newsom (Madison; Germantown) hit a solo shot in the fourth to pull PRCC within four, 7-3.
JC tacked on a run in the sixth.
Newsom led the Wildcats at the plate with three hits. Graham Crawford (Sumrall) worked three walks.
"Especially early on in the game I thought we left too many runners on base and had too many opportunities we didn't cash in on," Avalon said. "Eric had a good day at the plate and was a real bright spot for us."
Five pitchers took the mound for Pearl River. Jacob Scherer (Mandeville, La.; St. Paul's) started the game. He was followed by Reid Reynolds (Heidelberg; Northeast Jones), Shelby Terrell (Foxworth; West Marion), Byrion Robinson (Brookhaven) and Trace McNabb (Foxworth; West Marion).
Parker once again opened the scoring in Game 2, belting a solo homer in the first.
The Bobcats tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first, but PRCC jumped back ahead 3-1 in the second. After Von Seibert (Mobile, Ala.; Daphne) scored on a wild pitch, Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) crossed home on a passed ball.
Defense played a big role early in Game 2 as Seibert threw a runner out at home to end the first and then catcher Matt Mercer (Petal) nailed a runner attempting to steal second to end the third.
The Bobcats squeezed home a run in the fourth, cutting PRCC's lead to 3-2.
Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) singled in John Griffin Bell (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) for the first run of the fifth and then scored from second on a fielder's choice to push PRCC's lead to 5-2.
PRCC plated an insurance run in the seventh to seal the victory.
Landon Harper (Lauderdale; Northeast Lauderdale) pitched a gem in relief of starter Sam Hill (Soso; West Jones). Harper tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four.
"He was a guy who answered the bell," Avalon said. "He came in and his stuff was really good. He competed and shut the door.
"I thought Sam really battled. Being a Jones County kid, I know it was a big game for him. He gave us a chance with a solid start."
Hill earned the win, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings. He also struck out three.
Parker led PRCC at the plate with two hits and two walks.
"He swung the bat really well," Avalon said of Parker, before elaborating on the offensive efforts as a whole. "This is easy to say but I thought our timing was off a little with the (10-day) layoff but we have to make those adjustments. We have to learn from today.
"We can learn from the loss in Game 1 and the win in Game 2. If we do that, we can make some big improvements."
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround, visiting Meridian for a doubleheader on Sunday. First pitch is set for noon.
The games will be livestreamed at MCCEagles.live. They can also be heard at WRJWRadio.com.
PRCC is back at Dub Herring Park on Tuesday for a 2 p.m. first pitch against Southwest. The double-dip is PRCC's final "non-conference" meeting before MACCC play begins Feb. 27 at Northwest.
By: Patrick Ochs
Pearl River Community College
Director of Marketing & Communications