POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Saturday proved to be memorable for the Pearl River baseball program. The Wildcats started off the day with its inaugural Alumni Day — which included several former players flexing their muscles in a home run derby — and held a dedication ceremony to reveal the Artigues Family Clubhouse name adorned to the structure Ronnie and Jay Artigues helped build in 2001. After former coach and current Southeastern Louisiana Athletics Director Jay Artigues threw out the ceremonial first pitch, the No. 6 Wildcats proceeded to put on a show for the hometown fans, sweeping Coahoma 4-2 and 6-1 at Dub Herring Park.
“I don’t know that you could draw up a more perfect day with two wins at home in front of the alumni and then dedicating our clubhouse to the Artigues family,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “When you write the script, that’s the way you write it. Thankfully it happened that way and we’re very blessed that it did.
“It’s a good day at The River.”
With the sweep, the Wildcats (32-8 overall, 17-7 MACJC) secure home field for the upcoming MACJC Tournament.
The state champion in the regular season earns a bye into the Region XXIII Tournament, while the next eight teams play best-of-three series. The top four seeds in the playoff all host.
GAME 1: PRCC 4, CCC 2
After CCC (19-23, 5-19) opened the scoring with a two-run, two-out single in the first Pearl River’s bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Noah Barron (Hoover, Ala.) started a three-run inning by singling in Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) and Wiley Cleland (Columbia; Columbia Academy). A Reece Ewing (Mobile, Ala.; Faith Academy) groundout then broke the tie, scoring Kasey Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison) from third without a throw.
Izzio tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when he ambushed the first pitch he saw from CCC’s pitcher, singling home Ewing from second base with a ball through the left side.
Izzio led all PRCC batters with two hits.
Shemar Page (Raleigh) turned in his first complete game of the season in a game where runs were at a premium. The Louisiana Tech signee struck out five in the game — including fanning the game’s final two batters. Page surrendered two unearned runs on four hits and two walks.
“Shemar did what Shemar does. He battled and made big pitches,” Avalon said. “The kid is a winner and that’s what we needed today.”
GAME 2: PRCC 6, CCC 1
Reid Reynolds (Heidelberg; Northeast Jones) only registered one strikeout in Game 2 but the freshman right-hander was one of the stars of the contest. Throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s, Reynolds commanded the zone and with his new sidearm delivery was able to induce ground ball after ground ball. He finished the game — his first complete game of the season — with 15 grounders compared to only three fly balls.
“The thing you saw today is he has accepted who he is as a pitcher. That’s something Coach (Anthony) Izzio and I have harped on to him,” Avalon said. “He let his defense play and when he does that he’s special. There’s just not much you can do with the baseball when he throws like that.”
Reynolds only allowed one run on five hits and no walks while throwing just 64 pitches.
“Anytime a pitcher goes up there and commands the zone like that and keeps the game running and moving they’re a lot easier to play defense behind,” Avalon said. “They set the pace and our defense just played with them.”
Dexter Jordan (Hattiesburg) ended a game last week with a grand slam. On Saturday, the freshman second baseman opened the scoring in Game 2 with a grand slam as PRCC sent eight batters to the plate in the first.
“It was a big hit and a two-out hit,” Avalon said. “That seems to be something that has eluded us throughout the year. I’ll be real happy if we start doing that late.”
Barron came up big in the third, delivering an RBI single. Magruder O’Bannon (Gulfport; St. Stanislaus) plated the day’s final run on a groundout.
Jordan was the only Wildcat to register multiple hits with two, hitting a double and grand slam. Page and Matt Taylor (Raleigh) each hit doubles. Britt McKay (Wiggins; Ocean Springs) led Pearl River with two walks.
PRCC closes out the regular season against Jones College at 3 p.m. Tuesday and Northwest at 2 p.m. Friday. Each game will be streamed on PRCCAthletics.comand broadcast on WRJWRadio.com.