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Hinds wins Region XXIII championship

Published 10:30 am Monday, May 19, 2014

Hinds Community College and Jones County Junior College played 10 times this season and split the series right down the middle, with five wins apiece.

Hinds, however, got the win that mattered most.

Caleb Upton and Luke Reynolds each had a single, double, and two RBIs, and Casey Sutton threw seven sharp innings to lead Hinds to a 7-4 victory over Jones in the NJCAA Region XXIII tournament Sunday in Ellisville.

With the win, Hinds advanced to the NJCAA Division II World Series for the fifth time in school history and first time since 1999. The World Series starts Saturday in Enid, Okla. The brackets for the 10-team, double-elimination tournament will be announced later this week.

Hinds (35-19) beat LSU-Eunice, ranked second in the country, in its Region XXIII opener on Thursday, then beat No. 1 Jones (46-11) two out of three times to win the championship, including Sunday’s winner-take-all title game.

Hinds and Jones had played six times in nine days. They met three times in the MACJC state tournament — Jones won two of those games to win the state title — and then three times in the Region XXIII tournament.

The Eagles never trailed in Sunday’s final meeting with the Bobcats.

Upton, a Vicksburg native, put them ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single. A successful squeeze bunt brought in another run in the second.

After Jones tied it up, Reynolds doubled in two runs in the bottom of the seventh to put Hinds ahead for good and kick-start a five-run outburst that put the game out of reach.

Upton added another RBI single, Clinton’s Chase Lunceford brought in a run when he was hit by a pitch, and Casey Echols singled in the final run to make it 7-2.

Jones scored twice in the ninth inning to make it interesting, but Austin Sanders got the last two outs for his eighth save of the season.