SCOOBA – On the heels of clinching the school's first MACJC North Division baseball title since 1998 this past weekend, the eighth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College will play host to nearby foe East Central Community College in a best-of-three MACJC playoff series this weekend on the Scooba campus.
First pitch for Friday's opening game of the EMCC-ECCC baseball playoff series will be 7 p.m. at Gerald Poole Field, while game two is set for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday. A third and deciding game, if necessary, will follow immediately on Saturday. All games this weekend will be video-streamed live on www.EMCCAthletics.com/live.
Owners of a 15-3 home record this season, the 31-11 EMCC Lions secured the school's first division baseball title in 16 years with their 14-11 comeback victory over visiting Northeast Mississippi during the first game of this past Saturday's regular-season finale. With the program's most overall wins since 1994, this year's 18-6 division record matches EMCC's 1986 division mark when former head coach Bill Baldner's 37-16 Lions claimed the NJCAA Region 23 baseball title after earning state runner-up team honors.
Back on Feb. 21, the visiting EMCC Lions swept East Central, 6-4 and 3-0, in Decatur.
Guided by head coach Neal Holliman, East Central Community College enters this week's playoff series in Scooba sporting a 20-24 overall record with a fourth-place finish in the MACJC South Division standings at 10-14 in division play. The ECCC Warriors are the defending MACJC State baseball champions after knocking off Northwest Mississippi in last year's state championship game played on the Pearl River CC campus in Poplarville.
This year marks East Mississippi's second postseason baseball appearance under fourth-year head baseball coach Chris Rose. Three years ago on the road, the 2011 EMCC Lions took eventual NJCAA Division II World Series runner-up Jones County to a decisive third game in a best-of-three playoff series against the state and region champion Bobcats. Prior to moving to Scooba in 2011, Rose previously guided Meridian Community College to MACJC State Championships in 2008 and 2006 as well as an NJCAA Region 23 Championship in 2009.
This weekend's other best-of-three MACJC baseball playoff series will pit MACJC South Division champion and top-ranked Jones County (38-8) playing host to No. 4 North seed Holmes (31-15), North runner-up Northeast Mississippi (25-17) entertaining No. 3 South seed Pearl River (26-20), and South runner-up Hinds (27-16) welcoming No. 3 North seed and 20th-ranked Northwest Mississippi (30-14).
The four playoff series winners will advance to play in next week's (May 8-10) four-team, double-elimination MACJC State Baseball Tournament to be hosted by the highest-seeded remaining North Division team.