The 2018 baseball season came to an end for East Central Community College as the Warriors came up on the short end of a best-of-three National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 playoff series against Itawamba Community College May 10-11 at the Clark-Gay Baseball Complex in Decatur.
Itawamba won the first game on Thursday night 11-2 in eight innings. The Warriors returned the favor and run-ruled the Indians 9-1 in seven innings in the second game of the series Friday afternoon. The Indians recovered to win the deciding third game Friday evening 10-5.
East Central finished its season with a 31-18 record. The Itawamba Indians move on to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament May 16-20 at LSU-Eunice in Eunice, La., with a 32-15 record.
In the opening game of the series, Itawamba jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and the Warriors never threatened. Despite both teams getting eight hits, five East Central pitchers put 11 Indians on base by walk and another two by hit by pitch. Two runs scored on an East Central error.
Freshmen Zack Hutchison of Wayne Academy in Ellisville and Jay Johnston of Lake each had a pair of hits for the Warriors. Hutchison and freshman Hunter Harper of Enterprise drove in the two East Central runs.
In East Central's game two win, Alex Hay set the tone early for the Warriors. The freshman from Lewisburg hit a grand slam in the bottom of the second inning for a 4-0 lead. The Warriors took a 5-1 lead to the seventh inning when they plated four more runs to end the game. Freshman Ken Scott of Clarkdale singled in two runs and Cain Cleveland of Newton County and Hay each had RBI singles.
For the game, Hay knocked in five runs and Scott three. In addition to Hay's two hits, Jacob Edwards out of Newton County had three hits and freshman Ryan Cupit of West Monroe, La., had two.
Brooks Warren tossed all seven innings and got the win. The left-hander out of French Camp Academy gave up just four hits and struck out four batters.
In the deciding third game, East Central fell behind 6-1 after five innings. The Warriors closed the deficit to 6-3 in the sixth with back to back homers from Scott and Davis Lott of Lewisburg. East Central plated two more in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from George Farid (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) and an Itawamba error on a Scott ground ball.
East Central could not keep the momentum, however, as the Indians scored four in the eighth to get the final 10-5 win.
Itawamba out-hit East Central 18 to 6 in the deciding third game.