GULFPORT - In a back-and-forth pitcher's duel, all the Pearl River Central baseball team needed Tuesday night was one first-inning hit to advance past West Harrison.
The Blue Devils (21-9) won 1-0 with starting pitcher Cody Miller and reliever Rigell Robinson combining to throw a two-hit shutout. After winning Tuesday's game three, they will face West Jones in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs with game one set for Thursday at West Jones.
The PRC coaching staff started the game with a specific plan on the pitcher's mound.
"It worked out exactly the way we wanted it," Walther said. "We wanted (Miller) to go through and see (West Harrison's Kasey Donaldson) twice. No matter if he was throwing a perfect game, we'd come with (Robinson).
"The offense didn't go as planned, but pitching-wise it was exactly how we wanted."
West Harrison's season came to a close despite receiving a complete-game one-hitter from Donaldson, a left-handed sophomore. He struck out eight and walked three.
"He threw with a lot of guts, a lot of heart," West Harrison coach David Marsland said. "He had the one little mistake in the first inning. I thought for sure we'd score a couple of runs and they would score some more. After that first inning, he settled in and kept them off balance, as their guys did. You have to tip your hat. They were the better ball club tonight."
Donaldson walked PRC leadoff man Hayden Dunhurst to start the game and Wes Mitchell followed with a double to left that scored Dunhurst.
PRC didn't have another batter reach until the sixth inning, but that was all the support that Miller and Robinson needed.
Robinson (1-0) was awarded the victory after entering the game with a man on and none out in the top of the fourth. The sophomore gave up one hit in four innings, striking out four and walking two to pick up his first win of the season.
Tuesday was only Robinson's fifth appearance of the season and he relied heavily on his curveball against a potent Hurricane offense.
"My fastball, I got a few across early. But the curveball was where it was at." Robinson said.
Both PRC pitchers benefited from a stellar defensive performance.
"At the beginning of the season, (the defense) was a little rocky," Robinson said. "Lately, it's been spectacular."
Marsland and company did their best to make corrections at the plate, but it was to no avail. Robinson retired all three West Harrison batters in the seventh inning to close out the win.
"He kept us off balance all night," Marsland said. "We tried to talk to them about making adjustments here and there. The bottom line is (PRC) out-pitched us with every guy he threw out there.
"You hate to lose 1-0, but everybody that came here and watched this game got their money's worth."
West Harrison (22-8) put men on in every inning but the first and the seventh, including two in the fourth, but the Hurricanes never came up with the clutch hit at the plate.
Brandon Triplett, West Harrison's nine-hole hitter, had his team's only two hits of the night - a third-inning single and a fifth-inning double.