The Meridian Community College Eagles opened the 2014 Rush Invitational Saturday afternoon at Scaggs Field by notching its first wins of the 2014 season. The Eagles defeated Kaskaskia College (IL) in the opening game of the tournament by a final tally of 3-1 and completed the sweep later in the evening with a 6-3 victory over Jefferson College (MO).
MCC improved to 2-2 overall for the 2014 season with the sweep over the two squads from the Midwest. The other game in the opening day of the Rush Invitational Tournament saw Jefferson College defeat Kaskaskia by a final score of 10-3.
Meridian will complete play in the two-day tournament by playing Jefferson College Sunday morning at 11 and complete the weekend by taking on Kaskaskia later in the day at 5 p.m. Jefferson College and Kaskaskia are also scheduled to play Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Freshman Goose Yates collected his first collegiate pitching victory and the Eagles collected some timely hits to earn the two-run victory over the Blue Devils in the first game of the Rush Invitational Tournament. Yates worked five innings in the start for MCC and finished the game with eight strikeouts, while freshman Bryant Johnston earned his first collegiate save by working the final two innings in relief.
The Eagles scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first inning to take a quick 2-0 lead over Kaskaskia. Paul Angel led the inning off by reaching a fielding error in the outfield by the Blue Devils and later scored on an RBI single by Scott Votaw to give MCC the 1-0 edge. The Eagles scored its second run of the inning on a throwing error by Kaskaskia that gave the home team a two-run cushion.
MCC scored its final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 3-0 in favor of the green and white. Angel reached on a one-out double and later crossed the plate on a two-out double by Votaw to give the Eagles some more breathing room heading into the final two innings. The Blue Devils scored its lone run in the final inning on an RBI single by Cameron Cummins. Kaskaskia had runners at first and second in the final inning with two outs, but Johnston was able to strikeout the final batter to secure the win for Meridian.
MCC finished the game with six total hits and Kaskaskia with three hits in the game. Ben Gann, Grant Hill, and Brooks Balisterri each had one hit in the victory for the Eagles.
The Eagles completed the sweep in its final game of the day with a three-run decision over the Vikings. MCC used four home runs to score all six of its runs to pace the offense in contest.
MCC jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one inning all due in part to a home run. Sophomore second baseman Ben Gann connected on a towering solo home run to left field to give the Eagles the early lead. Jefferson College bounced back with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning to make the score 2-1. Trent Liemkuehler drove in one run for the Vikings on an RBI single, while the second run came across to score on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
Jefferson College stretched its lead to 3-1 in the third inning on an RBI double by Nolan Sponsler, but MCC would start to flex its muscles later in the game. Gann would tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the third inning with a two-run homer to left to give him his second long shot of the game. MCC would snatch the lead away from the Vikings moments later as catcher Garrett Larosa smashed his first home run of the season to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead.
MCC put the finishing touches on the victory with a two-run home run by freshman Dalton Thomas in the sixth inning that would be more than enough to claim a 6-3 victory over Jefferson College.
Sophomore Kellon Hibbard picked up the pitching win for the Eagles in relief, while freshman Baylor Obert picked up the save.