SCOOBA – In the midst of a two-week MACJC baseball home stand, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College held on for an 8-7 win in Friday's opening game against Hinds Community College to earn a doubleheader split at Gerald Poole Field. The visiting Eagles came back to claim a 9-2 victory over the Lions in the nightcap.
The nine-inning opener featured plenty of scoring early on as both teams traded five-run at-bats in the third inning. After the Lions pushed across a solo run in the first off Hinds starting pitcher Staton Todd, the Eagles used back-to-back home runs from Todd – a three-run blast – and Kyle Schimpf off EMCC starter Vijay Miller to take a brief 5-1 lead.
The Lions answered with four straight hits to open the bottom half of the third en route to putting up a five-run frame of their own. A two-run single by Whitt Davis was followed later by Ja'Coby Cole's first collegiate home run – a two-out, two-run shot to left field – to put the home team back on top by a run. Davis, from Huntsville, Alabama, added another two-run single in the fourth to give the Lions an 8-5 lead.
EMCC's bullpen then provided the headlines for the remainder of the contest. Sophomore right-hander Alex Knight entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth and promptly got Quinton Logan to ground into a force out at second to end the inning. The Sumrall High School product kept the visitors off the scoreboard again until the eighth inning when Will Craft's solo homer cut the deficit to two runs heading to the final frame.
In the ninth, Hinds loaded the bases on successive singles with one out. After Braedon Barrett's grounder to first brought home Schimpf from third, EMCC closer Eli Leathers came in to get Craft to bounce back to the mound to preserve the victory and secure his fifth save of the year. Scattering nine hits over five innings of relief work, Knight improved to 3-1 for the season.
Out-hit, 15-12, in the opener, the Lions had Davis, Marcus Ragan, Armani Lewis and Orrion Bailey all with two hits apiece. Schimpf and Elijah Nelson led the way for Hinds' 15-hit team effort with three hits each, though the Eagles left 13 runners on base.
The Eagles battled back and never trailed in the nightcap. Doing most of their damage during the middle innings, the visitors scored first on Barrett's two-run homer in the third off EMCC starting pitcher Bubba Stockstill. A couple of fielding miscues by the Lions along with consecutive hit batsmen to open the inning contributed to three Hinds runs in the fourth. Highlighted by Todd's two-run single an inning later, the Eagles scored three more times in the fifth to extend their lead to 8-1.
Limited to just five hits in the second game by a trio of Hinds pitchers, including starter Adam Jackson, the Lions managed solo tallies in the third on Davis' two-out single and in the fifth on Austin Lowther's sacrifice fly.
Coach Chris Rose's 17-13 EMCC Lions, 7-9 within the conference, continue their current home stand by playing host to the Eagles of Meridian Community College in a 4 p.m. Wednesday doubleheader on the Scooba campus.