|EMCC Lions miss out on baseball playoff berth with Saturday division split at Mississippi Delta|
MOORHEAD – The visiting Lions of East Mississippi Community College couldn’t maintain the momentum gained from their 5-2 comeback win in game one by dropping a 4-0 nightcap decision to Mississippi Delta Community College in Saturday afternoon MACJC North Division doubleheader baseball action.
With the Lions needing a Saturday sweep to keep alive their chances of earning a second straight postseason appearance, the doubleheader split against the MDCC Trojans eliminated EMCC from making the MACJC state playoffs. In turn, Delta secured the fourth and final division spot in advance of next week’s best-of-three playoff series. The Trojans finished division play with a breakeven 12-12 mark, while the Lions fell to 10-13 on the year. Other MACJC North Division teams advancing to postseason play were Itawamba, Northwest Mississippi and Northeast Mississippi.
It took an impressive comeback by the visitors in Saturday’s opener to even make the nightcap in Moorhead meaningful. Trailing 2-0 heading into the final inning, the Lions’ come-from-behind effort began with three straight one-out singles by Jason Yarbor, Aaron Brady and pinch-hitter Ismael Reyes. The latter hit cut the deficit in half at 2-1. After team-leading hitter Leroy Wilson was called out looking at a third strike for the second out, Zane Migues knotted the score at 2-2 with a run-scoring single to right field.
The home-standing Trojans answered right back in the bottom half of the inning by loading the bases with only one out off EMCC reliever Blake Hutcheson. The sophomore left-hander got both Julian Beamon and Cody Marks to line out to send the crucial contest into an eighth and deciding inning.
The Lions utilized base hits by Austin Braddock and Holden Watts, along with a pair of Delta infield errors, to take a 3-2 lead. The big blow followed when sophomore outfielder Spencer Wilson, of Wiggins, capped a 3-for-4 outing at the plate by blasting his first collegiate home run – a two-run shot to right field off Delta starting pitcher Eric Brozovich – to extend the lead to 5-2.
In relief of EMCC starter Smokey Ethridge, who gave up two hits and the two Delta runs in four innings of work, Hutcheson threw the final four innings in improving his record to 2-4 on the season. The Saltillo native scattered five hits over four shutout innings with three strikeouts and only one walk allowed.
With eight of their 11 hits coming over the final two innings, the Lions also received a 2-for-4 hitting effort from Brady in the opener.
With a playoff spot on the line, the Trojans also struck first in game two with an unearned run off Hutcheson in the bottom of the first. Delta picked up two more runs in the fourth frame on a solo homer by Laine Jordan and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Aaron Woodard. Another sacrifice fly by Trey Keyes, who homered in the opener, stretched the margin to 4-0 after five innings.
Meanwhile, Delta sophomore left-hander Jonathan Parker kept the Lions in check throughout the contest by scattering four hits in his complete-game victory. Not able to get a runner to third base in any of the seven innings, EMCC’s biggest scoring threat in game two came in the sixth inning. A one-out walk to Migues and another pinch-hit single by Reyes put runners on first and second. However, Parker got Braddock to fly out and Watts to ground out to thwart the possible scoring opportunity.
Giving up three runs on three hits in 3.1 innings of mound work, Hutcheson was saddled with the setback after picking up the victory in the opener. EMCC sophomore right-hander Blake Roberts finished out the contest by throwing the final 2.2 innings, giving up a run on one hit.
Coach Chris Rose’s EMCC Lions concluded the 2012 campaign with a 19-24 overall record in his second season at the helm.
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