The East Central Community College Baseball Warriors picked up six runs over the first two innings and then held on for a 9-6 win over the NJCAA Division III No. 1 ranked Tyler Junior College Apaches in the Rush Invitational Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Clark-Gay Baseball Complex in Decatur.
Wallace State Community College out of Decatur, Ala., and Baton Rouge Community College (La.) also participated in the Rush Invitational.
East Central jumped in front early on the visitors from Tyler, Texas, who have won the last three NJCAA Division III National Championships. Sophomore Jacob Edwards out of Newton County High School got the scoring started with an RBI single in the bottom of the first, followed by an RBI double from Zack Hutchison of Ellisville. The Warriors also scored on a passed ball.
After the Apaches closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the second, East Central answered with three more runs in the bottom of the frame all from a double off the bat of sophomore Wyatt Ball of Nanih Waiya. East Central added a single run in the bottom of the third to take a 7-2 lead.
Tyler chipped away at the Warriors' lead with two more runs in the top of the fourth inning to make the score 7-4. The Warriors added a couple of late insurance runs on a sacrifice fly from Edwards in the sixth and a fielder's choice from Ball in the eighth to hold on for the 9-6 win.
Three Warrior pitchers combined to give up only five hits and strike out 12 Apache batters. Sophomore left-hander Brooks Warren of French Camp Academy started and got the win with six innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Kolby Crowley, who prepped at East Webster High School, picked up a save after throwing the final two and two thirds innings.
East Central finished with 10 hits, including two each from Ball, Hutchison, and freshman George Farid from Ontario, Canada.
Earlier in the afternoon, East Central lost a high-scoring 13-10 contest to Wallace State Community, even though the Warriors out hit the Lions 13-10.
A walk, error, and hit batsman gave Wallace State a 2-0 lead in the first inning without a hit. After an RBI single from Edwards in the bottom of the first closed the gap to 2-1, Wallace State scored a run in the second inning on a solo home run and then began to take control in the third with three more runs and a 6-1 lead.
The Lions went up 10-2 in the top of the sixth when East Central mounted a comeback. Farid doubled in a run and freshman Ken Scott out of Clarkdale doubled in two more to close the score to 10-5. Edwards hit a solo homer in the seventh to make the score 10-6.
After Wallace State scored two more in the top of the eighth, East Central again answered with another three-run inning. Ball singled in two more runs, and a sacrifice fly by Edwards brought in another run.
Trailing 13-9 heading to the bottom of the ninth, Farid singled in a run before Wallace State was able to close out the 13-10 win.
Sophomore right-hander Dylan Marsh out of Lake Cormorant started for East Central and picked up the loss after opening the season with two wins in relief.
For the two games, Ball totaled six RBI and Edwards knocked in five runs. Farid had five hits on the day.
East Central is now 5-1 on the season.
The Warriors will host Northeast Mississippi Community College in non-league action on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Clark-Gay Baseball Complex on the campus in Decatur. Game times are 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. East Central will remain at home Saturday, March 3, for a doubleheader against Enterprise State Community College (Ala.), also at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Most home baseball games can be heard on WKOZ Cruisin 98.3 or via audio stream and live stream video at www.eccc.edu/eccc-media.