From Patrick Ochs, PRCC Athletics
ENID, Oklahoma — No. 1 seed Pearl River will need to bounce back quickly. After falling to host NOC-Enid 4-2 on Monday, the Wildcats will face Pasco-Hernando in a 1 p.m. rematch Tuesday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. The loser will head home from the NJCAA Division II World Series, while the winner advances to face NOC-Enid Wednesday.
“That’s baseball. It’s a tough game. We just didn’t do a good job offensively,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said after his team mustered three hits. “I thought Shemar (Page) gave us a chance. We left some runners out there early. We’re just trying too hard. Everybody sees that. We see that.
“We’ll learn from this. The season’s not over but we’ll need to respond.”
For the second night in a row the combination of hustling and an opponent’s miscue opened the scoring for PRCC (41-13 overall). Dexter Jordan (Hattiesburg) hit a high fly to open the second inning but sprinted out of the box and ended up on second after the Jets shortstop misplayed the ball. After Jordan took third on a wild pitch, the former HHS Tiger scored on a single to shallow center field by Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison).
The Jets responded in the top of the third, scoring on an RBI double to tie the game 1-1.
Pearl River retook the lead 2-1 in the third on a Wiley Cleland (Columbia; Columbia Academy) single through the left side of the infield that scored Luke Harper (Meridian; Northeast Lauderdale).
The Jets (40-17) capitalized on a two-out error, scoring on a triple to deep right-center, tying the game 2-2 in the fifth. The host team took its first lead of the game in the seventh, plating two runs on a wild pitch and groundout. Jerod Meggs (Kosciusko), who entered the game in relief of Colin Danley (Lucedale; George County), struck out the final two Jets of the inning to keep the score 4-2.
The Wildcats made one last push in the ninth, getting two baserunners aboard but were unable to force extras.
Page (Raleigh) had a strong performance for the Wildcats, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out eight.
“He through really well against an offense that could quite possibly be the best we’ve seen all year,” Avalon said. “They’re big, physical and strong and he did a good job of keeping them off balance.
“He pitched hard and pitched with his heart like he always does.”
Meggs finished with four strikeouts in three scoreless innings.
The Wildcats won’t have much downtime before playing Pasco-Hernando again in an elimination game. Avalon’s confident his team will have quickly moved past Monday’s disappointment.
“The great thing about baseball this time of year is you get to turn around and play again,” he said. “I think we’ll show up, respond and be better.”
The Wildcats defeated PHSC 8-4 in the team’s World Series opener Sunday.