The East Central Community College Warriors celebrated their 2018 debut in national polls with a doubleheader sweep of the visiting Lake Land College Wednesday, March 7, at the Clark-Gay Baseball Complex in Decatur.
The Warriors, who were ranked No. 10 in the most recent National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Top 20 poll released March 6, defeated the Lakers from Mattoon, Ill., 10-2 in the opener and 3-2 in the nightcap.
East Central improved to 11-1 on the season, while the Lake Land Lakers fell to 4-6.
In the 10-2 opening game win, three East Central pitchers held the Lakers to just four hits and two runs over nine innings. Sophomore right-hander Payton Griffin of Montpelier got the win in relief. The Delta State signee gave up three hits and one run over five and a third innings while striking out eight batters. Freshman right-handers Thomas Boothe (Fairhope, Ala.) and Austin Braswell of Hattiesburg gave up just one hit and one run in a combined three and two thirds innings of work on the mound.
The game was tight early on with the Warriors leading just 2-1 after four innings. But East Central used a big bottom of the fifth to pull away. Singles by freshmen George Farid (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) and Ken Scott of Meridian and a Lake Land error loaded the bases. A hit batter brought in one run and a fielder's choice. Sophomore Jacob Edwards of Decatur, who will play at the University of Southern Mississippi next year, singled in a run before freshman Alex Hay of Lewisburg ended the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center to give East Central a 6-2 lead.
A solo homer from sophomore Davis Lott of Lewisburg in the sixth pushed the score to 7-2. An RBI single by Edwards in the seventh made the score 8-2, and the Warriors added two more runs in the eighth on a Lake Land error and an RBI single from freshman Ryan Cupit (West Monroe, La.).
Freshman Zack Hutchison of Ellisville also had an RBI double in the game.
The seven inning game two was anything but the pitchers' duel the score might indicate. The teams combined for 16 hits, including 10 by Lake Land, but just five runs.
The Warriors took a 3-0 lead to the final inning before the Lakers scored a couple of runs to bring the final score to 3-2.
East Central's runs came in the second when Hutchison singled and stole second and third before eventually getting home, and in the sixth on an Edwards' sacrifice fly to center and an RBI single from Hutchison.
Sophomore right-hander Kolby Crowley of Maben got the win for the Warriors in game two, while sophomore right-hander Dylan Marsh of Lake Cormorant got the final out of the game with two runners on base for the save. Crowley will play at the University of North Alabama next year and Marsh at the University of Louisiana Monroe.
East Central will begin spring break week with a trip to Chalmette, La., Sunday, March 11, to face Elaine P. Nunez Community College in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The Warriors will then host Southeastern Community College (Iowa) in a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, before beginning MACJC conference play Saturday, March 17, against Coahoma Community College at 2 p.m. at the Clark-Gay Baseball Complex in Decatur.
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.