Hattiesburg opens district play with win over PRC

HATTIESBURG – It took until the fifth inning, but the Hattiesburg bats finally woke up in the Tigers’ 4-1 win over Pearl River Central Tuesday night.

“Last year we had to beat them five times to make it to a state championship,” Hattiesburg assistant coach Eddie Easley said. “We played them three times in the regular season; two in south state. They’re a great team, great coached team and day in and day out we know they’re going to bring their A-game when we play them.”

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It was the middle of the order that had the clutch base hits, as junior three-hole hitter Joe Gray was 2-for-2 from the plate with two RBI and senior five-hole hitter Jamarcus Lang recorded two RBI as well.

In the bottom of the first with Gray standing at second base, Lang slapped a single to right field – an opposite shot – to score the first run of the game.

“With Dexter (Jordan) on the mound, it’s important to score early, get that lead and let him go to work out there,” Easley said.

That’s exactly what Jordan did. He pitched a complete-game, three-hitter, gave up one unearned run, struck out seven Blue Devil batters and walked none. He also pitched four 1-2-3 innings, including a quick seventh inning where he was still throwing in the low 80s.

Jordan pitched with a hamstring injury, too, and he said he put in a lot of time before the game to get ready for the outing.

“I came in today and made the sacrifice to pitch for the team today for the first district game of the year,” Jordan said. “I did a lot of treatment throughout the day and got up there and did what I had to do.”

PRC did scratch across a run in the top of the third, though. Hayden Dunhurst reached on an error by the left fielder with one out, then Austin Izzio reached on another error two batters later to score the Blue Devils’ only run.

After going three-up, three-down in the third and stranding a base runner at third base in the fourth, the Tigers finally put more runs on the board in the fifth inning. Russell Coleman led off the frame with a walk, then Julian Conner reached on an error by the third baseman and Destin Holliman walk to load the bases.

Gray step into the box and connected on his first pitch, which he sent down the third base line to score two runs and make it a 3-1 game.

“We stress with Joe to make sure he gets on the top half of the baseball and hit the ball hard on the ground, and he did that and good things happened,” Easley said.

After Jordan was hit by a pitch, Lang hit a sacrifice fly to right to score the fourth and final run of the game.

Jordan would go on to allow one more hit in the in sixth, but he finished the game by retiring the last five batters, including two by strikeouts.

“He just attacks the zone and makes his pitches,” Easley said. “If we play good defense behind him, it’ll be a good day.”

A.J. Stinson, Noah Thornton and Kam Wells all collected hits in the game, too.

Hattiesburg (7-4, 1-0 Region 7-5A) will travel to PRC on Thursday at 7 p.m.