The East Central Community College Warriors clinched a hosting spot in the NJCAA Region XXIII Tournament with a pair of wins over the Coahoma Tigers on Sunday afternoon, 15-8, 7-5, to close out the regular season on sophomore day.
With the finish, the Warriors are guaranteed a home series in the best-of-three round of the Region XXIII Tournament which is set to be played on the weekend of May 7. The opponent and game times are to be determined. The winners of the best-of-three games will then travel to Poplarville for the remainder of the tournament.
The Warriors battled in game one against the Tigers before blowing the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh with a nine-run frame.
The explosive inning handed the Warriors a big lead and coasted the team to victory.
Coahoma was first on the board in the second inning before Stephen Wolf (Madison) cranked a solo homer to tie the game to lead off the bottom of the frame. R.J. Fletcher (St. Martin) gave ECCC the lead later in the inning with RBI single. Jesse Boydstun (Louisville) added another with a double in the third, before Coahoma battled back to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth. Conner Hicks (Stringer) put the lead back the Warriors' hands with one swing in the bottom of the fourth with a deep two-run homer making it 5-4.
The Tigers refused to give in and added four runs over the next two innings to regain the lead, 8-5, but ECCC put the game away in the bottom of the seventh was the team put up a nine-spot. A RBI single from Boydstun, three RBI doubles from Trey Lewis (Silas, Ala.), Eli Harrison (Little Rock), and Hicks, along with a couple of walks and an error pushed the nine runs across. Austin Lee (Madison) closed out the scoring in the eighth with yet another RBI double.
Walker Johnson (Mantee) took the win for the Warriors as he allowed three hits and zero runs over two and a third innings, striking out five. Gage Tufnell (Hurley) got the start, while Hayden West (Decatur), Gates Pee (Clinton), and Brian Johnson (Ridgeland) all put in work in relief out of the bullpen.
Boydstun and Lewis led the Warriors at the plate with three hits each, while Lewis and Hicks drove in a team-high three runs each.
The nightcap was all ECCC in the opening innings as the Warriors quickly built up a seven-run lead behind a strong performance from Jacob Holifield (Semes, Ala.) on the mound.
Lee picked up right where he left off in game one as he drove in one run in the first inning with a hard-hit RBI single. Boydstun added two more in the third with an RBI double and was quickly scored with another RBI double from Lee. Ty McCollough (Greenville) drove in the Warriors' final run with an RBI single later in the inning, making it 7-0, ECCC.
The Tigers came roaring back four runs in the fourth and another in the fifth, but the ECCC pitching staff and solid defense in the field halted the would-be comeback and sealed the 7-5 win.
Holifield got the start and the win on the hill for ECCC. He lasted three and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and four runs while striking out six. Johnson and Pee entered the game out of the bullpen and helped to close out the game in relief with Johnson picking up the save.
Lee's two hits and three RBIs led the Warriors at the plate.
The Warriors are set to host the best-of-three series to open the Region XXIII Tournament on May 7. The ECCC coaching staff is currently working on the possibility of adding games between now and then to keep the Warriors fresh, but those dates and opponents have not been determined.
For more information on East Central's athletic teams please follow our social media pages on Twitter (@ECCCAthletics) and on Facebook (ECCCAthletics).