The next stop for the East Central Community College baseball team is the region playoffs as the Warriors split a doubleheader with the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers Saturday, May 5, at Clark-Gay Baseball Complex in Decatur.
East Central won the opener 10-7, while Northwest grabbed the nightcap 12-6 in the final regular season games for both schools. Ten Warrior sophomore players and three managers were honored before the first game.
The Warriors had already ensured themselves a trip to the playoffs for the ninth straight year. The team with the best Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges league record at the conclusion of the regular season is crowned state champion and earns a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 Tournament May 16-20 at LSU-Eunice in Eunice, La.
The next eight teams in the MACJC standings face off in best-of-three NJCAA Region 23 playoff series May 10-11 to determine which four join the MACJC State Champion and LSU-Eunice in the Region 23 Tournament.
East Central will face Itawamba Community College in a best-of-three series. The location will be determined after all MACJC play concludes May 6.
With the home split with Northwest, East Central is 30-16 overall on the season and 17-11 in MACJC league play. The Northwest Rangers are 30-12 overall and 20-8 in the league.
In the opener against the Rangers, East Central jumped out to a big lead and then had to hold on for a 10-7 win.
The Warriors led 6-0 after the first three innings before Northwest chipped away at the lead with two in the third and three more in the sixth. East Central put the game away with four more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Freshman Alex Hay of Lewisburg drove in three of the Warriors' 10 runs with a double and a pair of singles. Freshmen Jay Johnston of Lake and Deon Leflore of Leake Central each had two RBI. Leflore's came on a long home run over the right field wall, while Johnston tripled in two runs. Jacob Edwards of Newton County and Davis Lott of Lewisburg also had two hits each in the game.
Kolby Crowley out of East Webster got the start and the win for East Central, giving up just two hits and two runs over five innings of work.
Game two was just the opposite, as the Warriors had to play comeback from almost the first pitch. Northwest plated six runs on five hits and an error in the top of the first for a quick lead.
East Central scored two runs in the bottom of the first, third and fifth innings, but couldn't keep pace with the Rangers.
Freshmen George Farid (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) and Ken Scott of Clarkdale each had two-run homers for the Warriors. It was Scott's team-leading seventh of the season. Freshman Ryan Cupit out of West Monroe, La., was four-for-four at the plate in the second game.
The ECCC sophomore baseball players and managers honored before the contest with Northwest May 5 and their respective high schools include (front row, from left) Wyatt Ball, Nanih Waiya; Cain Cleveland, Newton County; Tanner Elders, Newton County; and Dylan Marsh, Lake Cormorant; and (back row, from left) administrative assistant John Ross Griffin, Newton County; student manager Kalen Brown, Morton; Kolby Crowley, East Webster; Jacob Edwards, Newton County; Deon Leflore, Leake Central; Payton Griffin, Hebron Christian; Davis Lott, Lewisburg; Brooks Warren, French Camp Academy; and student assistant Brady Walters, Wayne County. (EC Photo)