Four home runs lift No. 2 seed EMCC to 8-4 win over Jones to begin Region 23 tourney play

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022

POPLARVILLE — The second-seeded Lions of East Mississippi Community College opened NJCAA Region 23 Baseball Tournament play by hitting four home runs during Monday’s 8-4 first-round victory over fifth-seeded Jones College. The week-long regional tournament is being played at Dub Herring Park on the campus of Pearl River Community College.

EMCC advances to take on nationally fourth-ranked and third-seeded LSU Eunice during Tuesday’s scheduled 7 p.m. contest. The Bengals dropped a 4-3 first-round decision to Hinds during Monday’s tournament opener.

EMCC and Jones capped Monday’s opening-day tournament action by initially trading solo runs in the first frame. Colson Harris’ run-scoring single off EMCC starting pitcher Blayze Berry in the top of the first was answered in the home half by Wesley Sides’ first of two homers on the night off Jones starter Kade Keeton.

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The Bobcats reclaimed their slim lead three innings later when Drew Williamson led off the fourth with a triple and came home on Billy Garrity’s RBI groundout.

The Lions responded by taking their first lead of the contest in the fifth on Sides’ two-run blast off Keeton. His second two-homer game of the year increased his team-leading home run total to 13 on the season and 18for his EMCC career.

EMCC moved ahead, 4-2, a frame later on Trey Trosclair’s leadoff homer in the sixth for his ninth home run of the season.

After the teams again exchanged solo tallies in the seventh to make it a 5-3 contest, the Lions used an inning-ending fielding gem to give them momentum heading to the bottom of the eighth. In the top half after Jonah Posey took over for Berry on the mound, the Bobcats greeted EMCC’s reliever with a leadoff homer by Jakob Wax to make it a one-run game again. After Posey loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a hit batsman, the Lions called on Dakota Boney from the bullpen. Boney got Josh Cary to hit a soft liner to center field that was collected by Hunter French on a sliding catch to limit the damage and secure EMCC’s lead.

The Lions responded by hitting through their lineup in the home half of the eighth to produce three insurance runs. Kade Shannon’s two-run shot to center field – his sixth homer of the year – was later followed by Berry getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

With a four-run lead in hand, Boney returned to the bump in the top of the ninth to retire the Bobcats in order, including a pair of strikeouts, and nail down his second save of the season.

Berry, a UAB signee out of Columbus’ Heritage Academy, improved his record to a team-best 7-1 on the season by allowing three runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and only one walk over seven innings.

The Bobcats hurt themselves by leaving a total of 13 runners stranded on base in the contest.

Sides, a Mississippi College signee from DeSoto Central High School, reached bases all five times in the game with his two homers and three walks. He was walked intentionally in the seventh and eighth innings with first base open to load the bases. Coby Holmes also had two hits for the winners during their eight-hit team effort.

Scoring six of their eight runs against Jones via the home run ball with two solo shots and a pair of two-run homers, the Lions’ four home runs in the contest raised their team total to 64 on the season. EMCC entered the week tied for 10th nationally in home runs among NJCAA Division II teams.