SCOOBA – The Lions of East Mississippi Community College exploded for a dozen sixth-inning runs to claim a 15-5 win over visiting Southwest Tennessee Community College, while earning a baseball doubleheader split during Tuesday's home season opener at Gerald Poole Field. EMCC dropped a 14-4 decision to the Saluqis in the nightcap.
With the score knotted at 3-3 late in the first contest, the home-standing Lions sent 15 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull away for their first victory of the new season. Anthony Hickman's two-run homer ignited the 12-run inning, while Luke Miller's two-out, three-run blast capped the productive frame. Pinch-hitter Isaiah Eiland also added a two-run double in the midst of the lengthy rally.
After Southwest Tennessee took an early 1-0 lead on Cameron Pleasant's two-out RBI double off EMCC starting pitcher Jaxen Forrester in the first inning, the Lions benefitted from three Saluqi infield errors to score a trio of unearned runs in the third. The visitors then took advantage of lead-off walks to even the score with solo tallies in the fourth and fifth innings.
Leading the way offensively in EMCC's 12-hit effort in the opener were Hickman, William Garriga and Matt Inlow with two hits apiece. Hickman, out of Pearl River Central High School, added an RBI single during his second at-bat in the Lions' big inning. Garriga, an East Central High School product, had a two-run double in the third to go along with a triple and two walks.
Sophomore reliever Garrett Ainsworth was the benefactor of the Lions' 12-run explosion by earning the victory after retiring the four batters he faced over the fifth and sixth innings, including a pair of strikeouts.
The nightcap was decided early after the Saluqis reached EMCC starting pitcher Chance Witt for nine runs on five hits and four walks in the first two innings. The big blows for Southwest Tennessee in the frame were a two-run double by Jacob Nobles and a bases-clearing two-bagger from Barrone Porter.
The visitors added solo tallies in the third and fifth innings while tacking on three more runs in the sixth to account for their 14 total runs on nine hits.
All four of EMCC's runs in the nightcap came on home runs with Philip Martin's solo shot off Southwest Tennessee starter Benton Garrison in the second inning and Armani Lewis' pinch-hit, three-run homer off Cannon Duke in the seventh.
Coach Chris Rose's 1-5 EMCC Lions are scheduled to play host to Nunez Community College in a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader on the Scooba campus followed the next day by a 1 p.m. Sunday twin bill at Shelton State Community College.