PRCC brings World Series trophy, immortality back home
When the Pearl River Community College baseball team was on the road for the NJCAA Division II World Series, one of their best memories, ordering 2,000 hot wings from an axe-throwing arcade in Enid, Oklahoma.
Their favorite memory, obviously, is that World Series championship dogpile and there really isn’t a close second place.
“Well, I get to come in from the outfield, so I’m always the one on the very top.”
“Being the third dogpile of the year, I knew that was going to be kind of crazy, so I tried to make a point to be on the top of that one.”
“About the same as Woodcock. Whenever we dogpiled here against Eunice after the regional, I was on the bottom and I could hardly get a gasp for air at that point, so I had to play my cards right there.”
The Wildcats have been playing their cards right all year long, having already won a state championship and a Region 23 championship in the same season for the first time in school history.
Now another first in the form of the program’s first ever NJCAA Division II World Series crown. “It’s kind of new to us honestly. We don’t know what to really do with this. We’re scared to hold it. Scared to drop it.”
Drop it before they let another team have it, the Wildcats imposing their will on the rest of the ten-team World Series field during what was more than a week-long stay in Enid, Oklahoma.
One-seed Pearl River averaging more than 13 runs per game across its five wins, but still staring elimination squarely in the face after losing game one of the best-of-three championship series against two-seed Madison. “Just having our backs against the wall, it’s something that wasn’t new to us this season. I think the first time being down to East Central 8-0 in the first inning and coming back and winning that game. After that game, we kind of knew that it doesn’t matter where we’re at. You never bet against the Wildcats.”
Instead, the Wildcats betting on themselves in a 19-1 game two thumping and then a 7-2 coronation comeback in Saturday’s winner-take-all game three. “It’s pretty much just now setting in on us. I think it really hit us hard whenever we stepped off that bus and there were 200 or so, probably more people waiting on us to get off, and just from that moment, it’s been a special thing.”
“I’ve always said one of the most powerful things you can say to a person – the most obvious thing is that ‘I love you.’ And we tell that to our guys all the time. But to me, just as powerful or more powerful, is that I’m proud of you, and so that’s part of who we are, and at the end of the day, I’m very, very proud of this group.”
Leading the charge throughout PRCC’s championship run, the West Harrison tripod of World Series MVP DK Donaldson, 2021 All-American Tate Parker, and the guy Head Coach Michael Avalon refers to as the glue, Taylor Woodcock, who each had exactly nine RBI across the six games that counted the most. “These three at times – at different times throughout the year – they all put us on their back and carried us.”
“We’ve always built success on each other. It feels like every season we’ve had together, we’ve gone into it trying to win a championship, so it’s kind of been instilled in us since we were little.”
The Wildcats finish their dream season with an overall record of 45-11 and as the blond hair, don’t care bunch go their separate ways, the only left in their wake is immortality. “Doing a special thing for a special place. I mean this will be something that we get to tell our kids about, and just what this entire brotherhood is made out of is bringing this trophy home.”
“Just knowing your name is in the history books forever – Coach Avie said that to us multiple times, man. Like go out and get it. Like you’re going to be put in the history books when you get this thing, and it’s pretty special knowing that.”
“For me personally, it was a special moment for me. I lost my dad this past year tragically in a car accident, and one of the last things he told me was get back and win the whole daggum thing. And so, I remember I hugged Taylor Woodcock. I spent a special moment with Taylor at my dad’s funeral, and we both talked, we both talked about doing it, me for my dad, and he said he would help me do that. And so, when we embraced, one of the clips, you see a long embrace between me and Taylor Woodcock, and that’s something I’ll never forget.”
Coach Avalon preaches the acronym SOAP ‘Success, Organization, Attitude, Pride,’ which he stole from his dad. He also says there was a bar of soap in the dugout during games.