PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast was one out away from a home sweep of Copiah-Lincoln on Tuesday afternoon at Ken "Curly" Farris Field, but three errors later there was too big of a deficit to overcome.
The Bulldogs wasted one of two of outstanding pitching efforts from Dawson Flowers (Fr., Brookhaven/Brookhaven Academy) and Hayden Robb (Fr., Vancleave/Vancleave), with Flowers getting a 9-7 Game 1 victory and Robb taking a hard-luck 6-5 loss in the second.
"It's the story of our last two doubleheaders," Gulf Coast coach Wesley Thigpen said. "The games we don't take care of the baseball defensively, we lost those two. Those are one-run games we should have won, one at Jones and one here."
Gulf Coast is now 3-5 headed into its first doubleheader that will count in the MACCC standings. The Bulldogs travel to Northeast Mississippi on Saturday, with first pitch in the doubleheader at 2 p.m.
Flowers pitched seven innings of four-run ball, scattering seven hits and striking out six.
"It was great to get back out there after last week's games were canceled by the snow," he said. "I wanted to get back out there and compete again. My changeup was really working for me today. I was keeping the ball low in the zone."
He left with an 8-4 lead, and not long after Thigpen arrived at the park. His wife, Holly, gave birth to their second child Monday morning, and he was getting her and their new daughter settled in at home before coming to the park.
Thigpen left assistant coaches Cody Livingston and Jonathan Parker in charge, and they pulled all the right strings.
"They're unbelievable," Thigpen said. "I trust them with everything, and I trust them with more than baseball. I had no doubt that even if I didn't get to come, they'd do a great job like they always do."
Gulf Coast exploded for six runs in the fifth to give Flowers some cushion. Tucker Thomas (So., Biloxi/Biloxi) tripled in a tiebreaking run, and Drake Henderson (Fr., Sand Hill/Greene County) doubled with two outs to make it 3-1.
Josh Cary (Fr., Petal/Petal) had a two-run double before a double by Brendan McCauley (Fr., Gulfport/Harrison Central) singled in two more for a 7-1 lead.
Henderson's third hit of the game was a solo homer in the ninth that made it 9-4, and the Bulldogs bullpen and defense made things interesting in the ninth before closing thing out.
Thomas joined Henderson with three hits in the opener, with Cary doubling twice. Alex McWhorter got a strikeout in the ninth to earn the save.
Robb deserved much better from his complete game effort. He allowed only one earned run, striking out five and allowing eight hits. The Gulf Coast defense made an error after ground ball on an 0-2 pitch turned into the first of back-to-back errors, and two hits and another error later, a 3-1 lead had turned into a 6-3 deficit.
Cameron Cotten (So., Lucedale/George County) hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, but the Bulldogs had the tying run thrown out at second on a steal to end it.
Thomas had three more hits in the nightcap, including a double. Henderson finished the day 5-for-7.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.
By: Don Hammack
Sports Information Director
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College