Monday, May 16, 2016

East Central Diamond Warriors win MACJC State Baseball Championship


Billy Cameron’s two-run, bases-loaded, walk off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the No. 14 East Central Community College Warriors a 13-12 victory over No. 2 Jones County Junior College in the championship game of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges Baseball Tournament Saturday night, May 14, at Community Bank Park. Cameron is a product of Mendenhall High School.

JCJC jumped out to an early two-run lead in the top of the first, but ECCC answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
 
The game went back in forth until Jones jumped out to a 12-9 lead in the top of the sixth.
 
The Diamond Warriors rallied to close its deficit to 12-11 going into the ninth.
 
Will Kennedy of Union High School lead off the ninth and advanced to second on a two-base error.
 
Cole Prestegard of Huntsville (Ala.) High School struck out for the first out of the inning, but Kennedy was able to advance to third on a pass ball.
 
Brandon Clark of Neshoba Central High School reached first on a fielder’s choice as the pitcher Dalton Skelton elected to throw home before Kennedy returned safely to third base.
 
JCJC intentionally walked Matt Mitchell of Lake High School after Clark stole second on the first pitch of the at-bat. This set up Cameron’s walk-off single to right field, which won the game in grand fashion after scoring Kennedy and Blake Paben of Madison Central High School, who had replaced Clark as a courtesy runner.
 
Channing Wall of Louisville High School got the win in relief for the Diamond Warriors. Wall pitched three and one-third innings allowing no runs and striking out four.
 
Clark, Prestegard, and Cameron each had three RBI in the championship game.
  
With the win, ECCC improves to 36-15 overall, and will host the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament May 19-22 on the Decatur campus. JCJC drops to 45-7 and also qualified for the region tournament, along with Northwest Mississippi Community College and LSU-Eunice.

In first round games at the Clark/Gay Baseball Complex, JCJC will face top-ranked LSU-Eunice and ECCC will face Northwest Mississippi Community College.
 
An official tournament bracket will be released Monday, May 16.

East Central won the 2013 MACJC State Tournament and finished third in 2014. The Diamond Warriors advanced to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament both years.

This marks the fourth state baseball championship for East Central Community College  and Neal Holliman’s third as head coach of the Warriors.