SCOOBA – A walk-off, ninth-inning grand slam by Nick Brooks in the first game followed by a combined no-hit pitching performance from Tyler Odom and KC Abney in the nightcap lifted the East Mississippi Community College Lions to a doubleheader sweep, 12-8 and 6-0, over rival East Central Community College during chilly Friday night baseball action at EMCC’s Gerald Poole Field.
In a scheduled nine-inning contest, the opener featured multiple momentum swings over the final three dramatic innings before Brooks’ pinch-hit, game-winning slam broke an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After the Lions staked starting pitcher Smokey Ethridge to an early 4-0 lead through three innings, the visiting Warriors added solo tallies in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames to cut the deficit to 5-3 heading into the seventh inning. That’s when EMCC ran into some defensive difficulties, allowing three unearned runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to fall behind 8-7.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ole Miss transfer and former Hamilton High School standout Chase Reeves tied the game at 8-8 with his first home run as an EMCC Lion. The one-out solo blast to right field came off ECCC southpaw Brady McBride.
Following a scoreless top of the ninth for East Central courtesy of EMCC freshman closer Brock McKnight, the Lions went to work in the bottom half of the frame. A one-out walk to pinch-hitter Fredrico Moody was followed by a LeDarious Clark single and an intentional walk to Trent Waddell to load the bases. Late-game defensive replacement Ross Moore then tapped back to the mound forcing out pinch-runner Landon Meadows at the plate to set up the climactic final at-bat of the game.
Making just his 13th plate appearance of the year, Brooks, a versatile freshman pitcher/infielder/outfielder from Starkville High School, coaxed a full count with two outs and the bases still loaded before depositing Fernando Gonzalez’s delivery over the right-field fence for the dramatic game-ending conclusion.
Offensively in the opener, Odom, who would start on the mound in the nightcap, went 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of walks. Reeves and Clark added two hits apiece to lead the Lions’ nine-hit team effort.
In relief of Ethridge and Tyler Jones, McKnight picked up his team-best third win of the year by going the final 2.1 innings. McKnight, a Kosciusko High School product, also has four saves on the season to now have a hand in seven of EMCC’s nine victories this season.
The adrenaline and contrasting emotions from the opening contest certainly seemed to carry over into the nightcap. The home-standing Lions batted around in the opening frame, plating five runs on five hits off ECCC starting pitcher Blake Dubuisson. Clark, a former all-state performer out of Southeast Lauderdale High School, opened the second game with a double to left-center field. Waddell, from Tuscaloosa’s Northridge High School, promptly followed with his team-leading second home run of the year. Later in the inning, freshman infielders Drew Standland and Brad Swede knocked in runs on the heels of back-to-back singles by Colton Caver and Odom and a walk to Brooks.
That’s all the offense the Lions would require in the second game, as the combined pitching efforts of Odom and Abney completely shut down the Warrior bats during the nightcap. Odom, from Oak Grove High School, tossed the first three innings with a pair of strikeouts and no walks, while Abney, a Memphis native, went the final four frames, fanning four and walking one, to earn the save. The pair of right-handers faced just 24 ECCC batters in the combined seven-inning pitching gem, with only two Warrior base runners managing to get into scoring position during the contest.
At the plate in the nightcap, the Lions evenly distributed seven hits throughout the lineup. Waddell’s two-run homer in the first was the big blow for the winners. Odom, who recorded his first collegiate victory, added his fourth hit of the day with a single during EMCC’s five-run first inning.
With their second doubleheader sweep of the season, head coach Chris Rose’s EMCC Lions are 9-7 on the year and will next travel to Wesson to take on host Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Kellogg Community College, out of Michigan, Wednesday (March 6) at Sullivan Field on the Co-Lin campus.