|East Mississippi sweeps Northeast; Lions earn first baseball postseason tourney berth since 2004|
SCOOBA – Needing only to manage a doubleheader split to secure their first postseason tournament berth since 2004, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College doubled their pleasure in their regular-season baseball finale by sweeping visiting Northeast Mississippi, 9-0 and 2-1, Saturday afternoon at EMCC’s Gerald Poole Field.
Having entered the twinbill tied with Northeast with identical 12-10 league records, but having swept the Tigers in Booneville earlier in the month, the EMCC Lions claimed the No. 4 seed in the MACJC’s North Division standings. In earning their first postseason playoff appearance in seven seasons, the Lions will travel to 14th-ranked and No. 1 South seed Jones County Junior College for a best-of-three series next week to determine who will advance to the 2011 MACJC State Baseball Tournament set for May 12-14. The EMCC-JCJC series will take place Friday and Saturday (May 6-7) at Community Bank Park in Ellisville.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team for the way they’ve stayed determined and battled all year after our slow start on the season,” EMCC first-year head coach Chris Rose noted. “Our goal all year was to find a way to get into the postseason, and I was excited to see them be able to dog pile and run around the field after today’s first win. They definitely deserve this opportunity with the way they’ve played, especially during the second half of the season.”
In Saturday’s all-important opener, the combined pitching efforts of starter Blake Hutcheson along with relievers Gabe Franks and Kameron Heiser hurled a complete-game shutout in the 9-0 victory. Offensively, the Lions scored multiple runs in four different innings on 11 total hits to back-up EMCC’s combined seven-hit pitching performance.
The Lions immediately set the tone for the day in the opening frame, as Alex Chick and Mitch Bohon set the table with a double and single, respectively. Zane Migues followed with a run-scoring bunt single and Tyler Bonaventure plated the second run with a fielder’s choice.
Capped by back-to-back RBI-singles from Bonaventure and Rusty McAlister, EMCC took advantage of a two-out infield error by Northeast, plus a balk and wild pitch, to score two more times in the third inning.
Coming through in the clutch one more time by pushing across three more runs with two outs a frame later, the Lions increased their lead to 7-0 after four innings. After courtesy runner Antwan Ratcliff scored on a wild pitch, Bohon singled in Chick for EMCC’s sixth run of the day. Migues then lofted a high fly ball to right field that was lost in the sun, falling for a double and scoring Bohon.
Raising their overall record to 16-27 after a 1-18 start on the year, the Lions tacked on two additional unearned runs as insurance in the sixth inning with run-producing singles by Chick and Migues, who both finished the game with 3-for-4 efforts at the plate. Migues also knocked in three runs while Chick scored three times.
On the mound, Hutcheson pitched into the sixth inning, scattering six hits with three strikeouts and only one walk, to even his record at 5-5 for the season. The freshman left-hander from Saltillo leads the Lions with five victories on the year.
In the nightcap, which featured only six combined hits between the two teams, the Lions completed the sweep by manufacturing single tallies in the sixth and seventh innings to come back from a 1-0 deficit. In the sixth, freshman shortstop Ismael Reyes smacked a lead-off double into the left-field corner and later scored on a passed ball.
With the score tied at 1-1, freshman catcher Noah Greer started the seventh with a lead-off single. Courtesy-running for Greer, Chick was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ratcliff. With the winning run at third following a wild pitch, Stephen Hudson’s two-out infield dribbler to third base wasn’t handled cleanly and Chick raced home for the winning run.
Six Lion pitchers combined to allow only one hit – a fourth-inning single by Northeast’s Jordan Gurley – in the nightcap. After a two-inning start by left-hander Cole Vaughan, EMCC followed with one-inning stints by Wesley Dodd, Thomas Dorsey, Tyler Thomas, Justin Pritchett and Lance Portera. Picking up his first decision on the year, Portera was credited with the win after retiring the visitors in order, with two strikeouts, in the seventh.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 30 April 2011 )|
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