BOONEVILLE – Fifth-inning home runs by Austin Beech and Stuart Coggins along with a complete-game pitching performance by Wesley Grantham lifted visiting East Mississippi Community College to a 5-3 nightcap victory and an MACJC baseball doubleheader split at Northeast Mississippi Community College. The home-standing Tigers earned an 11-3 run-rule win over the Lions in the first game of NEMCC's farewell twin bill played during Tuesday's Sophomore Day festivities at Harold T. White Field.
Following Northeast's seven-inning win over the Lions during the scheduled nine-inning opener, the Tigers grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the nightcap when leadoff batter Carter Roach tripled in the opening frame and came home on Hayes Hansford's sacrifice fly. NEMCC increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning on consecutive run-scoring hits by Tyler Samaniego and Anthony Lipsey off EMCC's Grantham.
After Northeast starting pitcher Nik Wilcher limited the Lions to just three singles through the first four innings, EMCC's bats came alive in the fifth inning. The momentum-changing frame began at the bottom of the lineup with a leadoff walk to Dillon Brown, a bunt single by Reiley Tate and a sacrifice bunt by John Ross Briggs to move the runners into scoring position. Beech then lined his first collegiate home run over the right-field wall to tie the game. Following a lineout and a two-out, pinch-hit single by Dillon Morgan, Coggins launched his fourth home run of the year – a two-run shot to left field – to give Grantham all the run support he would need.
Grantham, a sophomore left-hander out of Central Hinds Academy, settled in after getting the lead and held Northeast hitless the rest of the game. He allowed just three baserunners over the final three innings on two walks and an infield error. In collecting his third complete-game win and improving to 5-3 on the year, Grantham scattered three hits, struck out seven and walked four during seven innings of work.
Beech and Coggins also had singles earlier in the game to lead EMCC's seven-hit team effort with two hits apiece during the nightcap.
Northeast owned the advantage throughout the opening game of Tuesday's conference doubleheader. Lipsey opened the day's scoring with a leadoff homer off EMCC starting pitcher Josh Smith in the second inning. After scoring two unearned runs in the fourth, the Tigers pushed across three more runs a frame later to extend their lead to 6-0.
The Lions managed to cut the deficit in half after loading the bases to start the seventh inning with a dropped third strike, a walk and a hit batsman. Northeast starting pitcher Dylan Hitchcock then walked Briggs to force in EMCC's first run before giving way to the bullpen. Following Beech's run-producing ground out and Tyler Miller's RBI single, Tiger reliever Ty James induced an inning-ending double play to keep the score at 6-3.
EMCC's bullpen then faltered in the bottom half of the frame when three Lion pitchers combined for six consecutive walks plus a pair of wild pitches that allowed two of the five runs in the inning to score. Following the sixth straight walk, Hansford's bases-loaded, walk-off double provided the eight-run margin needed for Northeast's run-rule victory.
Beech and Miller had two hits each to lead the Lions in the opening contest.
Coach Brett Kimbrel's EMCC Lions, 10-29 overall and 7-19 in conference play, are scheduled to close out regular-season play by taking on the seventh-ranked Jones College Bobcats during a Friday doubleheader in Ellisville. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at JC's Community Bank Park.