POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The No. 6 Diamond Wildcats (40-12) survived a gaunlet of Top-10 competition in the Region 23 Tournament and took down No.1 LSU-Eunice, 11-2, for the program’s first region title since 2002. The victory adds to the championship pedigree of Pearl River.
“There’s a lot of history at Pearl River, especially in this baseball program and that’s something that was our goal coming in three years ago," Pearl River head coach Michael Avalon told WLOX. "We wanted to return to that level that Coach Artigues and guys before us set. You can win here and I think we’re proving that now and this is a very special place, but a lot of the credit goes to the players.”
PRCC received clutch performances from freshman infielder Dexter Jordan, who was the catalyst on offense, hitting two 2-run homers, while sophomore pitcher and East Central product Colin Danley was locked in at the mound.
“Coach says big time players make big time plays, that’s for the whole team, he preaches to us," Jordan said. "No matter what the game is going that day he told us to keep our head up and keep playing. I start off slow sometimes, but overall as the game goes on I keep playing and great things are bound to happen for me.”
“I had a rough outing earlier in the week. I just feel like I left my team down and that was the worst feeling ever so I had to comeback," Danley told WLOX. "From the get go, I said I’m putting the team on my back and just keep going as long as I can.”
The JUCO World Series committee awarded the Wildcats for their hard fought road to a regional title by tabbing Pearl River as the number one seed Tuesday out of the 10-team field.
“I think it’s a huge honor. That gives a lot of credit to our region and to our competition," Avalon told WLOX. "People mention the word pressure with that. I think this ball club, this team, these guys have dealt with that all season. I think they’ve learned from it and I think that’s going to help prepare us for this challenge.”
The feeling is still surreal for PRCC and although fatigue starts to set in due to a deep postseason run, the words “World Series” is all they need to hear to refuel.
“Coach preaching to us, get after it. Get after it!" Jordan said. "Don’t settle for nothing. We’re trying to stay hot and not cool off, so that’s the biggest thing we’ve got to do, so when we make it to Oklahoma we’re coming to play.”
Pearl River will make the trek to Enid, Oklahoma starting Wednesday (May 22nd). The top-seeded Wildcats will play the winner of the 8/9 game between Pasco-Hernando State College (31-23) and Lackawanna (32-15) at 1 p.m. Sunday. The 8/9 game is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.