CLARKSDALE – Maintaining their lead atop the MACJC North Division's baseball standings, the seventh-ranked East Mississippi Community College Lions swept Coahoma Community College, 20-9 and 6-4, Saturday afternoon at the Eddie C. Smith Sportsplex.
Playing for the third time within a four-day span, head coach Chris Rose's EMCC Lions improved to 27-9 overall and a division-leading 14-4 in league play with their ninth doubleheader sweep of the 2014 baseball campaign. Set for the team's fourth twin bill in six days, East Mississippi is slated to head to Tuscaloosa for a scheduled Monday doubleheader at Shelton State Community College.
In Saturday's first game at Coahoma, the home-standing Tigers reached EMCC starting pitcher Andrew Crane for four runs on five straight singles to take a 4-1 lead after the first inning. After scoring solo tallies in each of the first two innings on RBI singles by Trent Waddell and Codie Silver, the Lions knotted the score at 4-4 with two scores in the fourth on Kyle Liberto's RBI double and a run-producing groundout from Silver.
Making his second collegiate start, Crane settled down to throw five consecutive shutout innings following his shaky opening frame. Meanwhile, the Lions broke open the contest by batting around in the fifth inning. After Coahoma starting pitcher CJ King loaded the base with two walks and a hit batsman to open the fifth, EMCC's Tyler Odom's RBI single was followed by back-to-back sacrifice flies from Liberto and Silver. Chase Nyman's run-scoring single then preceded LeDarious Clark's third home run of the year to give the visitors a 10-4 advantage.
The two teams traded solo scores in the sixth inning, while Clark's RBI single in the seventh made the score 12-5 heading into the high-scoring eighth frame. EMCC sent 13 batters to the plate during an eight-run eighth that was highlighted by Blake Key's bases-clearing triple. Coahoma got four of those runs back in the bottom half, but the 11-run deficit after eight innings halted the scheduled nine-inning opener due to the 10-run rule.
The Lions had five players with multiple hits during EMCC's 18-hit, 20-run offensive explosion in the opener. Odom, an Oak Grove High School product, led the way with a 5-for-6 effort at the plate. Clark and Liberto followed with three hits and three runs batted in apiece.
On the mound, Crane improved to 4-0 on the year while giving up five runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and three walks over six innings.
In the closely contested nightcap, it took sacrifice flies from Key and Waddell in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to pull out the Lions' 6-4 victory in game two and secure their fifth doubleheader sweep against division competition on the year.
After Coahoma took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning off EMCC starting pitcher Tyler Young, EMCC plated two runs during the second and third innings to take a 4-1 lead. However, the Tigers answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third and added a solo tally in the fifth to deadlock the score at 4-4 heading into the final innings.
In relief of Young, who went two innings during his first collegiate start, and following one-inning stints by middle relievers Hunter Swart and Hunter Floyd, sophomore closer Conner Burton allowed just two hits with three strikeouts and a walk over the final three innings to earn the win and improve to 5-1 on the season.
With EMCC being out-hit, 10-6, in the nightcap, Clark paced the Lions offensively by reaching base during all four plate appearances with a single, double, walk and hit by pitch. The former Southeast Lauderdale standout went 5-for-6 at the plate during the twin bill with five runs scored and three runs batted in. On the afternoon, Clark reached base during all but one of his 10 total plate appearances.