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Spiers, PRC handcuff Ole Brook Panthers

Dylan Spiers didn’t have his best control Thursday night but the Pearl River Central sophomore right-hander managed to hand the Brookhaven Panthers a 6-4 setback in the Class 5A state playoffs. A large, partisan crowd watched Spiers allow only 4 hits, strike out 8 and walk 5 batters on Moyer Field, giving the Blue Devils a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series.

     Ole Brook (23-5-1), ranked No. 7 in a statewide Jackson newspaper poll, faces the challenge of winning on the road tonight when the Panthers meet the Blue Devils (17-9) in Carriere. Game time is 7 p.m.

     If Game 3 is necessary, it will be played Saturday on Moyer Field, starting at 2 p.m.

     Spiers, a 5-foot-11, 165-pounder, had struck out 52 batters and walked only 9 in 53 innings prior to last night’s game. He brought a 6-2 record and a 2.10 ERA into the contest.

     “Dylan didn’t have his best game but he battled,” said PRC coach Neil Walther. “He walked the leadoff batter to start the game but he settled down.”

     Spiers carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning when the Panthers rallied for 4 runs and claimed a 4-1 advantage. J.B Perkins singled home Genoa Sartin for a 1-1 deadlock. Sartin’s opposite-field single was the first hit off Spiers. Drew Jones delivered a 2-RBI double to the left-center field fence and Andrew Culver followed with a 1-RBI double.

     Jones, one of three seniors on the BHS squad, brought a team-best .571 batting average into the game. He hit into a game-ending double play in the bottom of the seventh.

      “(Spiers) had a good fastball and he stayed away from the plate,” said Jones. “His slider was good and he kept us off balance.”

     The Devils came back strong in the top of the sixth inning. Hayden Smith slapped a 2-run single to left, reducing his team’s deficit to 4-3. J.B Perkins replaced starting pitcher Dillon Newell on the mound.

     Perkins gave up a single to Ritchie Reed. A ground ball fielder’s choice by Christian Smith allowed the fourth run to score. Hayden Smith slid under the tag of catcher Zach Smith and PRC led 5-4. Trey Wynn’s blooper fell behind first base and it was 6-4.

     Newell (8-2), a senior right-hander, struck out 4 batters, walked 2 and allowed 5 runs on 5 hits.

     Ole Brook coach Randy Spring said he was disappointed with his team’s performance that included an uncharacteristic 3 errors. “We took the lead and couldn’t hold it. We should have had two outs at home plate.”

     Spring complimented Spiers. “When he got the lead, he took the game over. We need to be more consistent at the plate.”

     Spiers retired the Panthers in order in the sixth, notching 3 strikeouts. His fifth walk of the game arrived in the seventh but his teammates responded with a double play, their second of the game.