PRCC baseball has nine collect postseason honors

By FROM PEARL RIVER CC,

POPLARVILLE — Dexter Jordan (Hattiesburg) and Wiley Cleland (Columbia; Columbia, Academy) picked up another honor Tuesday when they were named to the All-Region XXIII Team. Michael Avalon was also named the Region's Coach of the Year.

The All-Region team was selected by the region's coaches.

A reliable middle of the order bat, Cleland hit .327 with a .428 OBP and .600 slugging percentage. The Louisiana-Monroe signee tied for third on the team in homers (11), second in RBI (53) and led the Wildcats with 19 doubles. His 67 hits were second-best on the team, as were his 58 runs scored. He also stole five bases. Cleland earned the MACJC Player of the Week honor once this season.

Jordan ranked fourth nationally with 18 homers, while his 66 RBI were good enough for ninth. Jordan also hit .284 with a .389 OBP and a team-best .649 slugging percentage. In addition to his homers, Jordan hit 15 doubles and scored 53 times. He also stole eight bases. Following the season, Jordan was a 16th round selection of the Houston Astros, marking the second straight season a Wildcat has been drafted directly from PRCC. Jordan was also a MACJC Player of the Week selection.

Avalon just completed his third season at the helm of the Pearl River program. The Wildcats finished 41-14 overall, winning the Region XXIII Tournament to earn the program's second-ever NJCAA Tournament berth. Overall at Pearl River, Avalon is 107-44 with a MACJC Title from 2018.

MORE AWARDS

Jordan and Cleland aren't the lone Wildcats to receive post-season recognition. Shemar Page (Raleigh), Miles Smith (Laurel; Northeast Jones) and Noah Barron (Hoover, Ala.) were All-MACJC First Team selections, with Matt Taylor (Raleigh), Jerod Meggs (Kosciusko) and Austen Izzio (Carriere; Pearl River Central) all earning spots on the league's second team.

Barron was a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat for PRCC for most of the season, hitting .311 with a .376 on-base percentage and .528 slugging percentage. The William Carey-bound right fielder hit 17 doubles with one triple, nine homers and 46 RBI. He also scored 49 times and stole nine bases in 10 attempts.

Page proved to be a true two-way threat for Pearl River. The Louisiana Tech signee boasted a 7-1 record on the year with a 2.77 ERA and 10.27 strikeouts-per-nine that were tops among PRCC’s starters. In 78 innings, Page struck out 89 against just 28 walks. When the right-hander wasn’t pitching, he was playing first base, where he hit .312 with a .624 slugging percentage and a team-high .506 OBP. In 109 at-bats, Page hit six homers, 12 doubles and two triples with 30 RBI. He also scored 39 times. For his efforts this year, Page was named the MACJC Pitcher of the Week once and also landed the national honor.

Smith was a dominant force on the mound for the Wildcats this season, leading Pearl River in innings (88 1/3), complete games (3) and strikeouts (97). He also tied fellow starter Colin Danley (Lucedale; East Central) for the team lead in wins with nine, finishing with a 9-3 record. Smith’s nine wins were good enough for 11th nationally, while his 97 strikeouts ranked 12th. The right-hander also had a sparkling 2.85 ERA and finished second among PRCC’s starters with a 9.88 K/9. Perhaps Smith’s most impressive statistic from 2019 was his home runs allowed — one. The South Alabama signee was also named the MACJC Pitcher of the Week once this season.

Izzio proved to be a table setter for the batting order while playing a reliable hot corner for the Wildcats as a freshman. The younger brother of assistant coach Anthony Izzio, Austen was second among PRCC’s regulars with a .332 average while also boasting a .420 OBP and .573 slugging. Izzio led PRCC with 73 hits, four triples and 60 runs scored. He also tallied 10 homers, 15 doubles, 46 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

Meggs embodied the role of stopper for Pearl River as a sophomore. A true competitor on the mound, the South Alabama-bound right-hander led PRCC with 26 appearances, striking out 37 batters against 22 walks in 44 1/3 innings. He also compiled a paltry 2.03 ERA with a 2-3 record and two saves.

Like Izzio, Taylor was a perfect table setter for the batting order as a sophomore. The Southeastern Louisiana signee led the Wildcats with a .342 average, while also boasting a .450 OBP and .500 slugging percentage. Taylor finished the year with 10 doubles, two triples, six homers and 50 RBI. He scored 56 times and led PRCC with 14 stolen bases.

Cleland named All-American

Pearl River fans have long known about Wiley Cleland’s abilities. National observers must have also taken notice because the Columbia native was named to the NJCAA All-America Third Team, the organization announced Tuesday.

Cleland is the eighth NJCAA All-American in program history, joining Greg Guidry (1st team; 1994), Jake Smith (2nd team; 2003), Rhyne Hughes (1st team; 2004), Craig Rodriguez (1st team; 2005), Kyle Lindsey (1st team; 2008), Krisjon Wilkerson (2nd team; 2013) and Simon “Meaux” Landry (2nd team; 2018).

“Wiley’s been a winner for us on the field and off the past two years. This award is the culmination of all the positives he’s done in his time at Pearl River Community College,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “He’s a humble young man who came in, was an extremely hard worker, believed in our program since Day 1 and made a decision very early on that he wanted to lead our program and that’s what he’s done the last two years. I’m very happy for Wiley and his family. I’m incredibly proud of him.”

Cleland finished his PRCC career with a .298 average, 14 homers, 27 doubles, four triples, 85 RBI, 11 stolen bases, 103 hits and 88 runs scored.

“He’s a Swiss Army Knife. In any situation he’s going to get the job done. His versatility over the past two years is a main reason we’ve been as successful as we have been,” Avalon said. “Anything that he was asked to do, he never questioned our decision. Regardless of what was asked of him, he always went about his job the same way.”

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