Meridian Star

Sports

April 2, 2014

East Central takes 1 of 2 versus Hinds

DECATUR — Maxwell Harmon’s two-out bunt single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Ben Cooley from third and gave East Central Community College a 2-1 win and a split of a doubleheader against Hinds Community College Monday.

“Coach (Neal Holliman) just told me to go with it,” Harmon said of his bunt base hit. “I trust him, and whatever he says, I just try to execute it. Once I saw (the ball) rolling, I knew I had it. That’s the best team in the state probably. For us to come out with a split is just big.

“It just proves that we can play with anybody.”

Hinds Community College (19-12, 9-3) managed to stave off a late-inning ECCC rally in Game 1, prevailing 6-5.

The Warriors (14-16, 6-6) have now won five of their last six games.

“The last few games we’ve been playing really well. We’ve started to figure our team out a little bit and some guys are starting to fit into their roles,” Holliman said.

In Game 1, a multitude of mistakes kept the Warriors from overcoming a four-run deficit. ECC had three runners picked off on the base paths and walked seven batters.

Said Holliman, “I felt like we competed well in the first game, but we didn’t play well enough to win. Hinds has a very good team, and when you play good teams, you have to play well or you’re probably not going to win.”

The two teams exchanged runs in the first inning when Chase Lunceford lifted a sacrifice fly to left that scored Luke Reynolds for Hinds, and Cody Daigle beat out an infield grounder that drove home Hunter Thrower for ECCC.

The game remained tied, 1-1, until the fourth when HCC broke through for four runs. The rally was aided by three walks, two wild pitches and a costly throwing error. Two singles and a walk to start the frame gave Hinds the scoring opportunity. Marshall Boggs scores on a wild pitch, and Casey Echols walked to load the bases. Quade Smith hit a grounder to pitcher Ryan Ward, who threw home for the force out, but catcher Todd Hughes’ throw to first sailed into right field, allowing two runs to score. Luke Reynolds scored Hinds’ final run of the inning when he scampered home following a wild pitch.

The Warriors responded with three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Maxwell Harmon led off the inning with a double to left and later scored on Jake Bush’s single to right. With two out and two on, John Morgan Berry roped a double to left to bring the Warriors to within one, 5-4.

In the fifth, an RBI grounder by Bush scored Thrower to tie the game.

“We got down, and I was interested to see how we would respond,” Holliman said. “We got kicked in the mouth. But then we came back and scored three, and that shows heart.”

Yet Hinds responded in the sixth with what proved to be the game-winning run. Lee Ogletree laced a single to left that scored Toler Roberson, who reached base after a walk.

“That is our sixth one-run win of the year in conference,” Hinds coach Sam Temple said. “They know how to handle these type of ball games. This wasn’t anything new to them.”  

Austin sanders (4-0) earned the win in relief.

In Game 2, the game remained scoreless until the fourth when the Eagles broke through for a run.  Reynolds doubled to left, and Mills singled to left with one out. Lunceford recorded the RBI when he lifted a fly ball to center on which Reynolds tagged and scored.

ECCC tied the game in the fourth when Chance Whitten reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a errant throw. Dylan Little then chopped a routine ground ball in the hole between second and third, but Lunceford was unable to make the play, allowing Whitten to trot home to tie the game.

The two teams would remain gridlocked, 1-1, until the bottom of the seventh.

“It was left up to him,” Holliman said. “It’s a read play, but he has the option of doing it, and he thought he could do it. We just give him the information to let him make him aware of it.”

Courtney Forbes (1-0) earned the win in 1/3 innings of relief for East Central.  

“Things are starting to click,” Harmon said. “This gives us a little more momentum heading into the next conference series.”

East Central is slated to play a doubleheader against Mississippi Gulf Coast Saturday.

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