MOORHEAD – The Lions of East Mississippi Community College earned their second straight MACJC baseball doubleheader split on the road with another standout pitching performance. Wesley Grantham tossed a five-hit, complete-game shutout in EMCC's 8-0 nightcap road win over Mississippi Delta during Tuesday's conference action played at the Jimmy Bellipanni Baseball Complex. The Trojans claimed a 13-5 run-rule victory over the Lions in the opening game.
On the heels of Jaxen Forrester's no-hitter at East Central last Friday to earn MACJC Pitcher of the Week honors, Grantham was nearly as dominant against Delta with seven strikeouts and only one walk while inducing 11 fly outs during his seven innings of work.
In Tuesday's second game, the Lions provided Grantham with the only run support the sophomore southpaw would need with solo tallies in the second and third innings off Delta starting pitcher Conner Wyly. After Zarin Cole's sacrifice fly scored Austin Beech to open the scoring, Tyler Miller's single brought home John Ross Briggs an inning later to give EMCC an early 2-0 lead.
Grantham, a product of Central Hinds Academy, pitched out of trouble in the first inning and then received excellent defensive play behind him during the middle innings to keep the Trojans off the scoreboard. After Grantham left a pair of runners stranded in scoring position in the opening frame, EMCC center fielder Dillon Brown threw out Jacob Mayo at home, who was attempting to score on Cade Blanchard's two-out single up the middle, to end the fourth inning. A frame later, Briggs snagged an inning-ending liner up the middle off the bat of Ty Riche to double off Jatavis Melton at second, who was running on the pitch for third base.
For good measure, the Lions tacked on three additional runs during both the sixth and seventh innings to increase the margin to eight runs. EMCC capped the sixth with successive run-scoring singles by Cole, Brown and Briggs, while Miller's RBI triple highlighted the seventh for the visitors.
Miller, Cole and Briggs led EMCC's 11-hit team effort with two hits apiece in the nightcap.
In the scheduled nine-inning opener, the home-standing Trojans staked starting pitcher AJ Russo to an early 3-1 lead by scoring three unearned runs off EMCC starter Reid Blakely in the bottom of the first inning. A two-out, two-run single by Carson Forrester highlighted the inning for Delta.
MDCC came right back the following frame by taking advantage of three hit batsmen to score five more runs in the second. The big blow of the inning was Blayke Dendy's bases-clearing triple.
Despite the early 8-1 deficit through the first two innings, the Lions chipped away at Delta's lead with solo scores in the third and fourth innings on Stuart Coggins' two-out RBI single and Cole's leadoff homer, respectively. The visitors then pulled to within three runs (8-5) by scoring two more times in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Austin Beech followed by S.T. McMurrian's pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Mississippi Delta answered an inning later by reaching the run-rule margin of eight runs by scoring five times in the bottom of the sixth, highlighted by Blanchard's grand slam off EMCC reliever Garrett Brown.
Coggins paced the Lions' nine-hit team showing in the opening game with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate. Cole posted his initial two-hit outing of the day, while Beech added a pair of run-scoring hits for the visitors in the opener.
Coach Brett Kimbrel's EMCC Lions, 5-18 overall and 2-8 in MACJC play, begin a four-date conference home stand by playing host to the 13th-ranked Hinds Eagles during a scheduled 2 p.m. Saturday (April 6) doubleheader at Gerald Poole Field on the Scooba campus.