GULFPORT -- Kasey Donaldson took a few strides and with a roar hurled his glove toward the home dugout. His final strikeout Friday night was more than just his 10th of the night. It clinched the 7-2 victory -- West Harrison's first playoff win in program history.
"Just amped up. It was awesome," Donaldson said of the Game 1 win over Pearl River Central. "Just had to let it all out. Can't explain it."
The Class 5A second round series heads to PRC on Saturday. Game 3, if needed, will be back at WHHS on Monday.
Although Donaldson racked up double-digit strikeouts for the second time this season, the sophomore southpaw struggled much of the night to find the strike zone and ended up with seven walks and a hit batter.
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PRC (19-8) got three base runners in the first inning but didn't push a run across the plate. With the bases loaded in the second, the Blue Devils' Wes Mitchell singled to left, scoring Cade Lee to take a 1-0 lead.
Except for the fourth and fifth innings, when Donaldson struck out four of the six batters he faced, PRC had base runners in every inning but wouldn't score again until Andrew Krol's bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
"We had a lot of base runners. We just didn't come up with the big hit," PRC coach Neil Walther said. "We made him throw a lot of pitches, just didn't recognize stuff and chased them out of the zone.
"If you have 13 base runners you should have more than just two runs. Someone is going to have to come up with the big hit."
The Hurricanes (21-6) blew the game open in the fifth with six runs. Colby Cagle opened the scoring with a double into the right field corner to break the 1-1 tie. After Donaldson was plunked, Brandon Parker struck a two-run single to left. Bunts by Taylor Woodcock, Tyler Van Norman, Dylan Cagle and Brandon Triplett in succession plated three more runs.
"When we were able to get the nine-hole guy on with the little swinging bunt we got back to the top," WHHS coach David Marsland said. "We've said all year that when the bottom gets on we can knock them in. Once we got to the middle of the order we started playing with small ball and doing the little things our guys can do.
"They just didn't handle the situation so we kept doing it until they did."
Friday night's win was a big one for a WHHS program that was in a similar spot a year ago.
"Last year I thought we had a great opportunity and just kind of choked it away because we'd never been there," Marsland said. "Right back in the same spot this year having won the division and all we had to do was close out Game 1, and we did. All the pressure and everything should be off of us. Relax, play ball, pitchers throw strikes and keep swinging it."