Long-drive contest

BOONEVILLE – The official name of Northeast’s ballpark at Booneville City Park is Harold T. White Field.
Wednesday, Itawamba and Northeast christened it “The Launch Pad.”
ICC, rated No. 6 in this week’s NJCAA national rankings, blasted nine home runs while the host Tigers sent five soaring over the fence in an MACJC North Division doubleheader swept by the Indians, 16-6 in six innings and 21-12.
ICC freshman outfielder Ladarrius Cole, an unlikely slugger with his 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame, smashed three consecutive homers and drove in eight runs to pace the Indians (27-7, 12-0) in the second game.
“I was just trying to stay back and find a fastball,” the Nettleton slugger said of his home run strategy. “I wanted to go up there, stay confident, and help my team.”
Cole said he once hit four consecutive homers in a high school game his junior year against Mooreville.
Justin Bryant, an Auburn signee, added two homers, a double and seven RBI to aid the Indians’ 21-hit effort. Also for ICC, Wesley McCullough and Jake Sloan homered.
ICC coach Rick Collier credits his team’s offseason work in the weightroom with supplying the power.
“These guys have been lifting weights. That’s why they’ve had such great success hitting the ball,” noted the coach, whose team is batting in the .370 range. “They’ve worked hard on drills and doing station work.
“On this level they know you’ve got to be able to hit it where it’s pitched. They’re able to use all fields.”
ICC led Northeast 19-4 headed into the bottom of the fifth when the Tigers (21-11, 7-5) scored six runs with two outs to keep from being run-ruled. Tyler White’s three-run homer was the key blow for Northeast.
In the opener, ICC’s Sloan put on a hitting clinic when he went 5-for-5 – all singles – and plated seven runs. His first two hits were off Northeast ace Jon Andy Scott, a left-hander.
“I know I had been struggling against lefties,” said the former Hatley star. “This is going to give me more confidence.”
Sloan continued, “We’d all struggled against lefties, but I knew we had a good offense. I think we proved today how good we are.”
ICC catcher Dustin Lunn belted his nation’s-best 12th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the sixth.
Josh Chism, who also belted a homer for the Indians, was the winning pitcher. He improved to 7-0.
In the second game, starter Joseph Koon improved to 5-1 on the mound for ICC while Northeast starter Brandon Farley absorbed the loss.
ICC has now won 19 straight games in the series.

Gene Phelps/Daily Journal

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