Hinds’ season, Temple’s tenure end with loss to East Central

Published 7:55 am Friday, May 21, 2021

Hinds Community College’s baseball season — and an era — ended Thursday afternoon in Poplarville.

Jeremy Martin pitched a complete game, Amani Larry doubled in two runs and scored another during a decisive rally in the fifth inning, and East Central eliminated Hinds from the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament with a 6-2 victory.

No. 15 East Central (29-16) advanced to play second-ranked LSU Eunice (45-5) in the championship round Friday at 3 p.m., and will need to beat the Bengals twice to claim the tournament title. If East Central wins Friday, they’ll play LSU Eunice again on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Region 23 champion will advance to the NJCAA Division II World Series that begins May 29 in Enid, Oklahoma.

No. 20 Hinds (25-18), meanwhile, bowed out after going 1-2 in the Region 23 Tournament. Thursday’s game marked the end of Sam Temple’s 16-year tenure as head coach, as well. Temple announced earlier this spring that he would step down at the end of the season to become the head baseball coach and assistant athletics director at Clinton High School.

Sam Temple

Temple, a Vicksburg native, won 446 games at Hinds, along with two Region 23 championships and three Mississippi state championships. His 2014 team was the NJCAA Division II runner-up, and his 2020 team was ranked No. 2 in the country when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season in March.

Despite sending eight players from the 2020 team to Division I programs, a number of others returned this year. The Eagles took a while to get rolling, however. They did not climb above .500 until late March, and won six of their last seven regular-season games to reach the postseason.

After beating Jones College in a best-of-three series to reach the Region 23 Tournament, Hinds dropped its opener to Pearl River, bounced back to beat Itawamba in an elimination game, and then met its ultimate fate Thursday against East Central.

Justin Williams hit an RBI single in the second inning to give Hinds a 1-0 lead, but East Central answered with an RBI single of its own by Roper Ball in the fourth. Ball later scored on another base hit by Coleton Smith to put the Warriors ahead 2-1.

Chase Dejean led off the fifth with a game-tying home run for Hinds, and then East Central broke it open in the bottom half.

A walk, a single, and an error brought in the go-ahead run, and then Larry’s double to right field plated two more. The next batter, Jesse Boydstun, brought Larry home with a single to make it 6-2, and that was all East Central needed.

Martin went the distance on the mound for the Warriors despite allowing 10 hits and four walks. Hinds had runners on base in every inning, but hit into three double plays and left eight men on base.

Colby Collier finished with three hits and Matt Corder had two for Hinds. Corder went 9-for-16 in three games in the tournament. Former Warren Central star Vantrel Reed also had two hits — both doubles — and scored a run.

Former Vicksburg High star Kendrick Bershell pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the Eagles.