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EMCC Lions split doubleheader with Pearl River in long-awaited home baseball season opener
 February 26, 2013

SCOOBA – In their long-awaited home baseball season opener, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College notched a 6-5 victory over visiting Pearl River Community College in Sunday’s first game before falling 13-0 in the nightcap played at EMCC’s Gerald Poole Field.            

With their baseball home opener pushed back three weeks because of recurring wet field conditions causing delays in the completion of the outfield fence reconfiguration project at EMCC’s Gerald Poole Field, Sunday marked the Lions’ fifth consecutive doubleheader split of the baseball season. 

In Sunday’s scheduled nine-inning opener, the home-standing EMCC Lions staked starting pitcher Smokey Ethridge to an early 5-0 lead with two runs in the first inning and three more in the third.  Austin Braddock’s two-out, two-run single supplied the scoring in the first, while the third frame was started by Chase Reeves’ lead-off double and later capped by LeDarious Clark’s run-producing single.

After reaching Ethridge for a solo run in the fourth, the Wildcats took advantage of a two-out infield fielding error a frame later that led to three unearned runs for the visitors.  PRCC pulled to within a run at 5-4 on Forrest Dungan’s RBI double followed by Darius Knight’s two-run single.

EMCC got one of those runs back and made it a two-run game in the sixth when Josh Tentoni’s single plated Reeves, who led off the inning with a single.

The Lions again received outstanding bullpen work from middle reliever KC Abney and closer Brock McKnight.  Abney maintained the lead by relieving Ethridge in the sixth inning and pitching into the ninth before giving way to McKnight. 

Ethridge, a product of West Lauderdale High School, went the opening 5.1 innings, allowing four runs (only one earned) on just four hits.  With five strikeouts and four walks, the sophomore right-hander claimed his first decision of the year and improved his career pitching record to 7-2 with the Lions.

Abney, from Memphis, gave up just one run on three hits in three-plus innings with two strikeouts and a pair walks.  After inheriting the potential tying run in scoring position, McKnight, of Kosciusko, nailed down his fourth save of the young season by getting PRCC’s Nathan Pugh to line into a game-ending double play.

Offensively in the opener, the Lions banged out 13 hits with four players achieving multiple-hit efforts.  Braddock, of Heritage Academy, led the hit parade with a 4-for-5 outing, followed by Colton Caver’s 3-for-6 effort along with two hits apiece from Reeves, an Ole Miss transfer from Hamilton, and Trent Waddell.       

The tables were indeed turned in the nightcap, as the Wildcats reached four EMCC pitchers for 13 runs on 17 hits in the six-inning, run-ruled contest.  Meanwhile, Wildcat starter Jake Brumfield scattered just four hits and struck out seven in the complete-game shutout victory.

Sophomore starter Dillon Hawkins, of New Hope, was pinned with the loss for EMCC in the second game to drop to 0-3 on the season.

Coach Chris Rose’s 7-5 EMCC Lions will travel to Raymond to meet seventh-ranked Hinds Community College on Wednesday in a 3 p.m. doubleheader delayed one day due to wet field conditions.  The Lions are slated to play host to East Central Community College Saturday afternoon in a 1 p.m. twin bill at EMCC’s Gerald Poole Field on the Scooba campus.

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