RAYMOND – The visiting Lions of East Mississippi Community College combined a fast start offensively with a solid pitching performance by Chance Witt to claim an 8-5 opening-game win during their Friday MACJC baseball doubleheader split with Hinds at Joe G. Moss Field. The Eagles bounced back to earn a 9-3 nightcap victory over EMCC.
In the nine-inning opener, the Lions chased Hinds starting pitcher Noah Hughes with five runs in the second inning and two more tallies the next frame to stake Witt to an early 7-0 lead. Following run-scoring hits by Gage Nyman and Luke Miller, EMCC's Destin Payton belted his first collegiate home run – a three-run shot to the opposite field – to cap the five-run second. An inning later, Nyman and Miller struck again with RBI singles.
The early run production by the Lions proved to be all Witt would need. The sophomore left-hander scattered six hits over eight innings of work before giving way to Jaxen Forrester, who picked up his first collegiate save by striking out a pair in the ninth. Witt, a product of Pontotoc High School, struck out five and walked four to improve his mark to 2-4 on the year. He gave up solo runs in the third and fifth innings while also pitching effectively through a sixth inning that brought home three unearned runs.
EMCC's 11-hit team effort in the opener was led by Miller's 3-for-4 outing at the plate with three runs batted in. Anthony Hickman had three singles and Nyman added a pair of run-producing singles for the winners.
The visitors grabbed a quick 1-0 lead in the nightcap on Philip Martin's solo home run – his sixth homer of the year – in the first inning off Hinds starter Carson Stinnett. EMCC's slim lead quickly dissipated in the bottom half of the frame when Staton Todd's three-run homer off Max Rinebolt made it a 3-1 contest.
After adding another run in the third, the Eagles essentially put the game out of reach (8-1) in the fourth inning on Ian Ladner's grand slam off EMCC left-hander Luke Templeton.
With Stinnett having retired 10 consecutive batters following the first-inning homer, the Lions got back on the board in the fifth inning with RBI singles from Miller and Hickman. Hinds got one of the runs back in the sixth to finalize the outcome and gain the twin-bill split.
Stinnett and reliever Jase Dalton limited EMCC to just five hits in the nightcap.
Coach Chris Rose's EMCC Lions, 12-18 overall and 5-11 in conference play, continue their stretch of four consecutive road doubleheaders by taking on the Eagles of Meridian Community College in a 4 p.m. Wednesday doubleheader at MCC's Scaggs Field.