By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Usually, nothing ICC’s Ladarrius Cole does on the baseball field surprises his coach.
Tuesday, in the first game of the Indians’ MACJC North Division doubleheader against rival Northeast at Crubaugh Field, the centerfielder made a play that left Rick Collier shaking his head.
In the top of sixth inning, Cole raced to the fence in an attempt to snare a stadium-exiting blast by Northeast’s Justin Smith. The Indians’ outfielder leaped, stuck his left arm over the fence and into a group of plush cedar trees to make the highlight reel catch.
“That ball was out of the park and he still caught it,” Collier said, then smiled. “He’s one of the best players I’ve been around in my 11 years here.”
Cole’s not sure how he robbed Smith of a two-run bomb.
“All those bushes were in my way,” he said, then laughed, referring to the cedar limbs hanging over the fence. “We’re family on this team. I was trying to make a play to help my brothers.”
The Nettleton sophomore’s spectacular grab was the talk postgame, more than the Indians’ 9-1 win. Even the four-hitter tossed by pitcher Joseph Koon played second fiddle to “The Catch.”
Koon (7-1), a right-hander who struck out seven and walked one, was just as amazed as his coach, teammates and fans with Cole’s grab.
“Oh, my gosh, that was unbelievable,” said the sophomore from Tupelo. “I hope we got that on video.”
Koon, Weibel clicking
In the opener, ICC scored all the runs, three, Koon would need in the third inning. Cole supplied one with a sacrifice fly and two scored on a Northeast throwing error.
Colby Moore’s two-run double and an RBI single by catcher Evan Weibel highlighted a four-run ICC fifth inning.
The Indians scored their final two runs in the sixth on a double by Jake Sloan, a single by Sam Summerford, and a Tigers’ fielding error.
Koon took a no-hitter into the fifth before No. 8 batter Will Wallis singled.
“He had everything working today,” said Weibel, who was Koon’s catcher at Tupelo High. “Everything I called, he hit the spot.”
Koon struggled in the sixth after sitting through the Indians’ long four-run fifth. He escaped the frame with Cole’s help and two striekouts.
“Evan (Weibel) and I were clicking on pitch selection,” Koon said. “Our offense and defense is starting to come around. Nine runs is good, especially against a rival.”
Indians lead North
ICC (20-8, 9-1) won the second game 4-3 for a sweep against the visiting second-place Tigers (13-15, 4-4) to pad its division lead.
Sam Summerford’s single to deep third plated pinch-runner Adam Roye for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Luke Hargett (4-1) pitched his fifth complete game to earn the win. Will Irvin’s two-run homer in the first inning gave the Indians an early lead.
ICC 9, Northeast 1
Northeast 000 001 0 - 1 4 2
ICC 030 043 x - 9 12 2
WP: Joseph Koon (7-1); LP: Brad Luna (1-3). Multiple hits: (ICC) Jake Sloan 3, Evan Weibel, Sam Summerford, Will Irvin; 2B: (ICC) Irvin, Sloan, Weibel, Colby Moore.
ICC 4, Northeast 3
Northeast 000 300 0 - 3 5 2
ICC 201 000 1 - 4 9 1
WP: Luke Hargett (4-1), LP: Brandon Farley (1-4). Multiple hits: (ICC) John Gatlin 3, Sloan, Summerford, (NE) Michael Collie; HR: (ICC) Will Irvin.
Records: ICC 20-8, 9-1 MACJC North Division; Northeast 13-15, 4-4.