MOORHEAD – The sixth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College split Friday's MACJC North Division doubleheader at Mississippi Delta, claiming a 4-2 win in the opener before dropping a 5-4 decision in the nightcap at the Jimmy Bellipanni Baseball Complex.
Defensive miscues plagued the visitors in the opener, as the Trojans took advantage of the first of five EMCC errors in game one by plating a two-out, unearned run in the bottom of the first. The score stayed 1-0 until the fourth when LeDarious Clark led off with a walk and moved to third on Chase Reeves' double. Two batters later, Trent Waddell stroked a two-run double to right field off Delta starting pitcher Devontae Wilson to give the Lions a 2-1 lead.
The Lions surrendered the lead in the bottom half of the fourth when three more errors contributed to a second unearned run for the Trojans off EMCC starting pitcher Kyle Liberto. Following a scoreless fifth inning, Waddell came up big again for the visitors. After Reeves singled to lead off the sixth, stole second and then moved to third on a ground out, Waddell singled in the go-ahead run.
East Mississippi manufactured an insurance run in the final frame on a two-out double steal pulled off by Reeves and Chase Nyman that scored Nyman after the sophomore short stop reached base on an error, stole second and later moved to third.
Despite EMCC's errors, Liberto battled on the mound to secure his fourth complete game in five pitching starts this season. The freshman right-hander from Hancock High School allowed just four singles and the pair of unearned runs while striking out five and walking three over the seven innings to improve to 4-1 on the year.
Out-hitting Delta, 8-4, in the opener, Waddell and Reeves both went 2-for-3 at the plate with Waddell driving in three runs and Reeves scoring twice.
Once again in the nightcap, Mississippi Delta struck first. But, this time the home-standing Trojans pushed across three runs on three singles and two walks in the first inning off EMCC starter Joshua Griffis. However, the sophomore left-hander from Jacksonville, Fla., settled down following his first-inning troubles to pitch into the fifth inning.
After managing just a first-inning single from Clark off Delta starter Jacob Shempert through the first three frames, the Lions again received an offensive boost from Waddell, who got EMCC on the scoreboard by smacking a two-run home run in the top of the fourth with Colton Caver aboard to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Trojans got one of the runs back in the fifth inning on Carson Crites' two-out RBI single off reliever Tyler Odom, EMCC's everyday third baseman making his first pitching appearance of the year for the Lions. Crites' second hit of the game plated Brandon Cummins, who was hit by a Griffis pitch to begin the inning.
The visitors promptly responded by knotting the score at 4-4 in their next at-bat. After leading off the sixth with his second hit of the game, Clark advanced to second on a wild pitch and subsequently scored EMCC's third run of the contest on back-to-back ground outs by Reeves and Caver. With two outs, Waddell came through in the clutch again for the Lions by homering off reliever Tre Hobbs to tie the score with his second home run of the game and team-leading fourth of the year.
Error-less in the second game heading into the sixth inning, the Lions' sixth fielding miscue of the day proved costly. After Peyton Callahan singled and Cummins walked with two outs, Demarcus Mahone reached on an infield error that allowed the would-be winning run to cross home plate.
Capping a productive 4-for-6 afternoon at the plate with six total runs batted in, Waddell again went 2-for-3 with three more RBIs on his pair of round-trippers in the nightcap. The Tuscaloosa native has already matched his season total of four home runs from a year ago in the team's 22nd game this season.
Coach Chris Rose's 16-6 EMCC Lions, 3-1 in division play, will play host to Coahoma Community College in a Tuesday home doubleheader set to begin at 4 p.m. at Gerald Poole Field on the Scooba campus.