By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Northeast Community College head baseball coach Kent Farris potentially has a lot of interchangeable parts to his 2012 team.
Farris got a chance to see how those parts functioned Wednesday, as the Tigers opened their season with an 11-6 loss to Wallace State in a nine-inning contest.
“We had two bad innings today,” Farris said of the Tigers’ effort in Game 1. “We weren’t putting the ball in play, either.
“Typical first game.”
Wallace State won the nightcap, 9-7.
Going with a scripted number of pitches per pitcher, Northeast used five hurlers, who gave up five-run innings in the fifth and eighth frames.
The Tigers began the contest in solid fashion, pushing across three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Corey Smith from New Albany had the key blow of the inning, a two-run double to the left field gap. Drew Cristo from Booneville was later hit by a pitch, pushing across the other Northeast run.
Northeast then backed that up with a pair of runs in the second inning, beginning with a leadoff home run flicked to right field by Justin Neal from Southaven. A sacrifice fly by Taylor Bonifacio scored the other Tiger run.
“We came out and played well early,” Farris said. “But this was a nine inning game, and you have to stay with it.”
While the Tigers managed to push across some early runs, they did leave the bases loaded in the first, and left runners in scoring position in four other innings as well. Northeast added its other run in the fifth on a sac fly by Cristo, after a walk by Bonifaciio and a single by Blake Littlejohn from Pontotoc.
On the mound, Daymon Ericksen, the first of the five Northeast pitchers, allowed only one hit in three innings.
Booneville’s Kyle Stephenson was knocked around in the fifth inning, charged with four of the five Wallace runs while giving up two hits in the frame. Then in the eighth inning, Josh Drake gave up five runs, including home runs to Brodie Jeffery and Jud Sherrill.
Braten Dill worked the final four and a third innings for Wallace to earn the win.
Wallace State 9, Northeast 7: The visitors took a 6-0 lead in the first inning but the Tigers tied it at 6 in the fourth.
Wallace State (7-2) snapped a 7-7 tie with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth.
Northeast managed four hits and had six errors.