Meridian Star

February 6, 2013

Bouncing Back

Eagles rebound from home-opening loss to rival East Mississippi to earn split

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The Meridian Community College baseball team was able to avoid a doubleheader sweep Tuesday against East Mississippi Community College, as the Eagles came back to win Game 2 3-2 after dropping the home opener 4-3 in eight innings.

    “They’ve got a good club, so give credit to them for the first win,” MCC head coach Dillon Sudduth said. “I'm not so much worried about the results this early on as much as I am how we played in the game.

    “I thought we came back well in the second game, and that can be tough to do with young players because they have a tendency to feel sorry for themselves.

    “We made a point that we are not going to be that kind of team. I was proud of how hard are guys played.”

    Heading into the sixth inning of Game 1 down 2-0, MCC rallied in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles loaded the bases with no outs for leadoff man Jonathan Youngblood, who grounded into a fielder's choice to cut the lead to 2-1. Left fielder Paul Angel followed on the next at-bat with a single over the shortstop to tie the game. However, the Eagles would do no further damage, as Dallas Hannah and Charles Morton flew out to end the inning.

    The two teams went scoreless in the seventh inning, forcing the game into extra innings. After an error allowed EMCC's Colton Caver to reach base to begin the top of the eighth, Trent Waddell provided the Lions with the spark they needed. The left-handed freshman turned on a ball and pulled it well over the right-field fence to give EMCC a 4-2 lead. MCC got a run in the bottom half of the inning, but with a runner on third base and two outs, Morton flied out to left to end the game.

    “That home run was huge,” said EMCC head coach Chris Rose, the Eagles’ former head man, who was making his first return trip to Scaggs Field. “The story of that game was, we scored a bunch of runs with two outs and had clutch hits.”

    Sudduth made it a point after the game for his team to rebound in Game 2. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles did just that.

    With runners on second and third and one outs Hannah beat out an infield single to tie the game. The next at-bat, EMCC pitcher Hunter Floyd was unable to handle a bunt, allowing the Eagles to take a 3-2 lead.

     In his first appearance at Scaggs, freshman right-hander Kellen Hibbard held the Lions for the rest of the game. Hibbard earned the win for the Eagles, pitching three innings while only allowing two hits and striking out three batters.

    “As a freshman I came in there a little nervous,” Hibbard said. “I don't think it could get any better than this, it was a fun win.”

    After the series split, both teams move to 3-1 on the season. EMCC will hit the road Saturday for a doubleheader against Wallace Community College in Selma, Ala., while MCC will play host Saturday to Faulkner State for a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Scaggs Field.

    “Any close game where it comes down to a missed bunt or a well -executed bunt or anything when every pitch matters that's huge for getting us ready for postseason play,” Sudduth said.