ENID, Oklahoma— Led by a night of six RBIs from Taylor Woodcock (Pass Christian; West Harrison), the top-seeded Pearl River baseball team exploded for 17 runs Monday night to claim a 17-8 victory over the rule of race #5 Lansing at David Allen Memorial Baseball Stadium.
“It’s a quality team that we played there. They’re strong, they’re physical and they swing the sticks well,” Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. “They were ready to play, well done to them. They squared some balls. I thought there were some tough calls that didn’t work out tonight but we didn’t let frustration get the better of us I’m very proud of our guys for their performance.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN
Lansing (44-9 overall) was first on the contest scoreboard. After a walk and an error, the Stars pushed a one-out run.
Pearl River (42-10) went quietly late in the first inning, but a quick top second from starting pitcher Turner Swistak (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove) sent the Wildcats home.
PRCC put three points in the frame to take a 3-1 lead. Alex Perry (McComb; North Pike) kicked things off with a single. The freshman swept second base moments later before returning to score on an outfield single from DK Donaldson (Gulfport; West Harrison). Logan Walters (Petal) fielded a single into left field to move Donaldson to third. A stolen base by Walters was followed by Woodcock throwing a two-run single to right field.
The Stars tied the game 3-3 in the third inning with a home run and an RBI brace.
Swistak had a great rebounding run in the fourth, helped by some incredible play from Donaldson. Swistak got the first batter off the frame and passed the second on the ground to Donaldson. On the next pitch, Lansing smashed a ball to the first baseline that Donaldson gloved down. The second then picked up the ball and threw it to the covering Swistak for the takedown.
Walters started the fourth inning by fielding a ball in right field. The LCC left fielder misplayed the ball, allowing it to roll to the wall. Walters never checked, slipping into third base. John Griffin Bell (Mobile, Alabama; Faith Academy) led it in with a one-hitter groundout later, making it 4-3. Gabe Broadus (Wilmer, Ala.; Faith Academy) drew a five-length walk at the next at-bat, and pitched Tate Parker (Gulfport; West Harrison). An 0-1 pitch from the Stars left-handed pitcher was thrown deep on the left field wall by Parker to extend the PRCC lead to 6-3.
Pearl River’s lead was reduced to 6-5 in the fifth. Back-to-back singles and an RBI groundout scored the first inning, and an RBI single scored the second. Lansing had a chance for another run, as they singled out to right field, but Ian Montz (Lafayette, La.; Acadiana) lined the ball up, popped up and fired a rocket at home plate for get the runner out and end the innings.
“That guy is really good out there. He’s been throwing like that all year,” Avalon said. “They are always on the money. It was a great game from Matt to stick with. It was a big game. It changed the momentum and once we had that momentum, we didn’t give it back.
PRCC grabbed some much-needed insurance runs in the bottom half of the frame, setting up four runners to take a 10-5 lead. Donaldson started the inning with a double before moving to third on a Matt Mercer (Richton; Petal) single. One out later, Woodcock hit again, throwing a two-run single into center field. Bell singled to move Woodcock up to third, then scored on a passed fly ball. Broadus capped the score by collecting an RBI with a ground out.
Lansing cut the Wildcat’s lead to just two runs at 10-8 in the top of the sixth inning. If that bothered Pearl River, the Wildcats certainly didn’t show it as they racked up an incredible seven runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a 17-8 lead. Montz and Donaldson walked to start the inning. After a defender was picked, Preston Soper (Madison; Germantown) walked to charge the bases. Woodcock built on his incredible day moments later, driving a 1-1 pitch into right field for a two-run brace. RBI pushed his total to six in the contest. A two-run single from Bell coupled with RBIs from Perry and Donaldson capped the score in the inning.
Cole Tolbert (Laurel; West Jones) started the top of the seventh with a strikeout and a fly ball. The evening finale was very fitting as Woodcock dove to line out a ground fly that was heading to the outfield and kicked to first base to get the batter out.
Swistak got the start, pitching four innings and allowing five runs on five hits and one walk. He struck out four batters. Ryan Burt (Columbus; New Hope) pitched an inning, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk. He scratched one. Tolbert pitched the last two innings of the game. He had four strikeouts for a run and two walks.
Woodcock made the difference at home plate. The second baseman went 3 for 4 with two runs and six RBIs.
“What about Taylor Woodcock?” Avalon said. “It’s the best game he’s had. This kid wants to win a national championship. I am very proud of him because he deserves it. He works his tail. He had his struggles and I stuck with him, but I’m very proud of him.
Donaldson went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two walks. Perry, Parker, Walters and Bell all had two hits apiece. Perry also stole two bags.
PRCC get the day off on Tuesday and return to semi-final action on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 per day or $5 per day for students. A tournament pass can be purchased for $50. Children 10 and under will be admitted free.
All matches will be broadcast live on NJCAATV.com for an additional cost. A day pass is $10 and a tournament pass is $25.
Matches will also be streamed live on WRJWRadio.com.