Hinds beats Jones, advances to Region 23 tournament
RAYMOND — Hinds Community College has endured an up-and-down baseball season this spring. It dealt with both sides of that inconsistency Saturday, but managed to come out on the “up” side of things and keep the season alive.
Former Warren Central star Caleb Sterling hit two home runs, and Pablo Lanzarote drove in six runs as Hinds beat Jones 9-4 and 13-5 to win their best-of-three series in the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference playoffs.
Jones (25-20) won Game 1 of the series on Friday, 7-4, forcing Hinds to sweep a doubleheader Saturday to advance to the Region 23 tournament — and that’s exactly what the Eagles (23-16) did.
Hinds scored five runs in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the series — the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader — to snap a 4-all tie and win 9-4.
Former Warren Central star Vantrel Reed hit an RBI double in the sixth inning to give Hinds the lead for good. Lanzarote hit a two-run double two batters later and scored on an error, and Sterling capped the rally with a solo home run.
Reed finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored, while Sterling also had two hits.
Matthew Taylor pitched four innings of scoreless relief for Hinds. He allowed three hits and one walk, and struck out three.
Hinds’ late-inning surge was a harbinger of things to come, but did not immediately carry over to Game 3 of the series. DeeJay Booth hit a three-run home run as Jones scored four times in the third inning, and Tyler Ducksworth added an RBI single in the fifth to put the Bobcats ahead 5-0.
Hinds started its comeback in the sixth inning as Sterling hit a two-run home run to bring in the team’s first runs of the game. It then scored five times in the seventh to grab the lead — Lanzarote hit a three-run home run that made it 7-5 — and six times in the eighth to turn the game into a rout.
Hinds finished with 16 hits in all. Seven of its nine starters, including Reed, Sterling and Lanzarote, had two hits apiece. Connor Carter also had two hits, walked twice and scored three runs.
Noah Magee finished the game with two innings of scoreless relief for Hinds. He was the only one of six pitchers used by the two teams who did not allow a run.
Hinds will next play in the NJCAA Region 23 tournament beginning May 17 at Pearl River Community College. The schedule for the tournament has not yet been set.
Pearl River, the regular-season MACCC champion, and Louisiana champion LSU-Eunice had already clinched berths in the Region 23 tournament. Hinds, East Central Community College, Meridian Community College and Itawamba Community College will join them in the double-elimination tournament.
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