Lieberman, Jackson play huge role in MCC success|[5/13/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

A pair of Vicksburg players made an impact this season for the Meridian Community College Eagles.

Meridian won the Mississippi Association of Junior and Community College’s state championship in early May at Sentobia. Former Warren Central infielder Joey Lieberman and former Vicksburg High pitcher James Jackson played key roles.

MCC coach Chad Caillet said Jackson, a freshman, was a standout in the postseason.

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“James came in in relief three times during the state tournament and actually got us the win in the championship game with Itawamba,” Caillet said. “He then gave us some big quality innings in the Region 23 Tournament at Gulf Coast.

“We started him against Mississippi Delta in a game we needed to stay alive and he threw seven real strong innings. Our bullpen just blew up.”

Mississippi Delta rallied from a 12-4 deficit to beat MCC 13-12, ending their season. MCC was a two-time defending Region 23 champion and had advanced to back-to-back NCJCA Division I World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

Ironically, in the season’s last game, Lieberman was at his best. The University of Memphis signee slammed a pair of three-run home runs to stake the Eagles to a 12-4 lead.

“Unfortunately, that was the only real big game Joey had for us in the postseason,” Caillet said. “The first half of the season went real well for Joey. He was able to solidify the middle of our lineup.

“Then at mid-season, he went into a rut. There were times we needed that crucial RBI from him and didn’t get it. He led us in homers and RBIs but we just would’ve liked to have more timely hitting.”

Lieberman finished the season with some solid power numbers. He batted .348 with 14 home runs, 17 doubles and he drove in 66 runs for the 43-12 Eagles.

Jackson, meanwhile, started slow but finished strong for the Eagles.

“James began the year in middle relief but by the end of the year, he was starting for us,” Caillet said. “We’re looking for him to be a top guy for us next year. He’s got some electrifying stuff.

“The biggest adjustment for him was his command. That was his biggest challenge, learning how to pitch at this level.”

For the season, Jackson finished 2-0 with a 4.20 earned run average. He struck out 17 batters and walked 22 in 36 innings pitched.