Backs against the wall today

FULTON – ICC, the nation’s No. 4-ranked team, has to win two games today to keep its season alive.
Seth Edwards belted a grand slam home run in the top of the 10th inning Friday to lift visiting Pearl River to a 7-3 comeback victory against the Indians at Crubaugh Field in Game 1 of their MACJC best-of-three state playoffs series.
Game 2 between the Indians (38-11) and Wildcats (27-20) is scheduled for 2 p.m. today while Game 3, if necessary, would follow. The winner advances to next weekend’s four-team, double-elimination state tournament.
“The one good thing going for us is that we still have a heartbeat,” ICC coach Rick Collier said. “We’ve got a doubleheader at home, at Crubaugh Field, and we’ve got to come out and play.
“Everything’s on the line.”
Edwards, who belted a fastball from reliever Josh Chism (10-1, 4 saves), said he would have been happy with a liner in the gap.
“I just wanted to drive in a couple of runs,” said Edwards, a sophomore rightfielder. “Our whole team kept fighting. We never gave up.”
Pearl River trailed 3-0 headed into the eighth inning when Matt Discon tied the score with a three-run homer off Chism.
Strong start for Koon
ICC starter Joseph Koon two-hit the Wildcats through seven innings while striking out seven.
However, he was lifted in the eighth for Chism after giving up singles to Ashley Graeter and Jake Hawkins.
“I’d do the same thing again if I had it to do over,” Collier said of his decision to pitch Chism.
ICC took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back solo home runs by Justin Bryant and Dustin Lunn off Pearl River starter Josh Jones, a Southern Miss signee.
The Indians made it 3-0 in the second when Nate Coleman singled and scored on a throwing error.
Pearl River’s two left-handers, Jones, who was lifted in the eighth, and reliever Wil Mann, combined to no-hit the Indians in innings five through 10. Jones exited with 12 strikeouts while Mann added three.
What frustrated Collier was the fact that his team left a runner at third in the third and two runners on in the fourth.
“You can’t let those opportunities slide by,” he said. “You’ve got to put the bat on the ball.”

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal