SCOOBA – Kyle Liberto's six-hit shutout lifted 16th-ranked East Mississippi Community College to a 3-0 victory in Tuesday's baseball nightcap to give the home-standing Lions a doubleheader split with rival Meridian Community College. The visiting Eagles prevailed, 8-3, in the opener played at EMCC's Gerald Poole Field.
A freshman right-hander out of Hancock High School, Liberto faced four batters over the minimum of 21 hitters through seven innings and was credited with 66 strikes out of 93 pitches thrown. The Gulfport native improved to 2-1 on the year by striking out six and issuing just one walk.
Liberto received the only run support he would need in the opening frame, as lead-off hitter Chase Nyman singled, stole second and scored on Colton Caver's run-scoring single. The score stayed at 1-0 until Meridian reliever Kellon Hibbard loaded the bases in the sixth with a trio of hit-by-pitches. The Lions capitalized on the rare pitching oddity by getting an RBI single from Dylan Vuncannon and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Acker.
Meanwhile on the mound, Liberto struck out the side in the opening frame around a hit and a walk. After inducing inning-ending, double-play ground balls in the fourth and fifth, he retired the side in order in the sixth.
The Lions out-hit Meridian in the nightcap, 8-6, with Caver and Vuncannon getting two hits apiece for the winners.
In the opener, the visitors owned a 10-4 hit advantage while posting multiple runs in the second, fifth and seventh frames. Meridian built on an early 2-0 lead with three more tallies in the fifth inning.
East Mississippi cut into the deficit an inning later when Chase Reeves' two-out, three-run blast plated LeDarious Clark and Tyler Odom to make it a 5-3 contest. The Eagles responded promptly by smacking four doubles in the top of the seventh that led to three more runs and accounted for the final 8-3 margin.
Transfer southpaw pitcher Joshua Griffis dropped his initial EMCC decision, surrendering five runs on five hits while fanning five and walking four.
Coach Chris Rose's 10-4 EMCC Lions travel to Poplarville to take on Pearl River Community College in a Tuesday (March 4) twin bill against the Wildcats.