GOODMAN – Chase Reeves' pair of home runs in Thursday's nightcap lifted seventh-ranked East Mississippi Community College to an MACJC North Division road baseball split with Holmes Community College at Charlie Donald Field. After coming up just short in their ninth-inning comeback attempt in the opener, the visiting EMCC Lions bounced back from their tough 7-6 setback to earn Thursday's split with a 6-3 victory over the Bulldogs in the nightcap.
With Thursday's split at Holmes, which had been postponed from its previously scheduled April 5 game date due to last weekend's rain, head coach Chris Rose's 25-9 EMCC Lions enter this weekend's baseball action with a one-game lead over Northeast Mississippi atop the MACJC's North Division standings. Set for a noon road doubleheader Saturday at Coahoma, East Mississippi's current 12-4 division record is one game ahead of Northeast (18-14, 11-5) and two games better than Mississippi Delta (21-13, 10-6).
Trailing 3-2 after four innings of Thursday's nightcap at Holmes, the Lions knotted the game at 3-3 on Reeves' leadoff home run to begin the fifth inning. Before the former Hamilton High School standout's heroics an inning later, EMCC's top of the batting order set the table for the dramatics. Following two quick outs to begin the top of the sixth inning, Chase Nyman battled to earn a full-count walk and was balked to second. LeDarious Clark followed with a single to short on a 1-2 count to put runners at the corners. Reeves, a former Ole Miss signee, then blasted Clyde Kendrick's first pitch over the right-field fence for his team-leading sixth home run of the year.
In relief of starting pitcher Joshua Griffis, who allowed three unearned runs on only one hit through the first four innings, EMCC closer Conner Burton worked the final three frames on the mound for the Lions. After facing the minimum six batters in the fifth and sixth innings, Burton ran into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Putting Kevin Barber and Jason Hursey on base via a walk and hit batsman, respectively, to begin the inning, Burton retired Cody Sartin and Jaylan Bledsoe before loading the bases by walking Deion Ulmer. Burton closed out the comeback win by getting Chad McNeil to ground out to third base. The former East Webster product gave up only one hit during his three shutout innings to improve his pitching record to 4-1 on the season.
With the visitors out-hitting Holmes, 7-2, in the nightcap, Reeves' 2-for-3, 4-RBI effort paced the Lions. Tyler Odom also had a pair of hits for EMCC in game one.
Thursday's opener in Goodman also came down to the final out, before the Lions' comeback attempt came up one run shy in the top of the ninth inning. Trailing 7-3 heading into the final frame, EMCC benefitted from a pair of Holmes errors to mount a late, three-run rally only to come up one score shy.
The primary reason for EMCC having to play catch-up in game one was the pitching of Holmes starting hurler Cole Feazell, who struck out 15 Lion batters without issuing a walk through seven innings. The Lions' comeback attempt over the final two innings came against Bulldog relievers Jared Bailey and Ulmer.
Holmes claimed the early momentum in the opener by reaching EMCC middle reliever Hunter Graham for five straight hits that produced four runs in the second inning. The two teams traded solo tallies in the third inning to make the score 5-1. The Bulldogs countered EMCC's single score in the fourth with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half of the frame to account for the 7-2 margin heading into the eighth inning.
Sophomore right-hander Chase Cameron started the game for the Lions but lasted only three batters before handing the ball to Graham, who went 2 1/3 innings of middle relief and was saddled with the loss to drop to 3-2 on the year. Sophomore sidearmer Brock McKnight worked the final 5 1/3 innings for EMCC, scattering five hits and allowing two unearned runs with four strikeouts and three walks.
With 11 hits in the opener as a team, including three doubles, the Lions were led by Dylan Vuncannon's 3-for-4 effort at the plate. Reeves and Nyman each had two hits apiece in game one. During the doubleheader, Reeves was a combined 4-for-8 with five runs batted in and three runs scored.