By David Wheeler/Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – The 2012 baseball season has been far from boring for the Northeast Community College Tigers.
So why not spice it up by scoring 18 unanswered runs against rival Itawamba?
Sure enough, the Tigers recovered from an early deficit to post 18 straight runs Wednesday, taking Game 1 from the Indians 18-8 in a doubleheader full of North Division playoff implications.
Itawamba, ranked No. 8 in the nation, recovered from the blitz behind solid pitching for a 7-0 victory in Game 2.
“That was a huge win for us in division,” Northeast head coach Kent Farris said. “I’m proud of our guys for the way they fought back.”
In Game 1, Northeast (18-26, 13-9) looked in trouble early as Itawamba (33-9, 17-5) powered its way to an 8-0 lead through the top of the second inning.
Included in those two innings were two at bats by ICC’s Drew Alford, in which the Tupelo sophomore connected for two home runs and five RBIs.
But from there, momentum was rolling in favor of the Tigers.
Northeast chipped away at the ICC lead with two in the second, one on the third, and four in the fourth. Then the Tigers really brought the hammer down with a seven-run fifth frame, which included a grand slam by Corey Smith of New Albany.
“Corey Smith’s grand slam was huge, it gave us some breathing room,” Farris said.
Northeast then tacked on four runs in the sixth to end the contest and make a winner of Myrtle pitcher Beau Cummings, who had entered the contest in the second inning.
The victory ensures the Tigers one of the top four spots in the North, qualifying them for the playoffs. Northeast appears slated for either the Nos. 3 or 4 spots, meaning a road series next weekend.
Hudspeth wins again
Ben Hudspeth (8-0) has been a rock on the mound for the Indians, and his seven innings in Game 2 helped his squad recover.
The Tupelo freshman scattered four hits as ICC locked down the North No. 1 seed.
“Hudspeth has done that every game he’s pitched,” said ICC assistant Alex Williamson, who had to guide the team after coach Rick Collier was ejected in Game 1. “He fills the zone with strikes.”
The Indians took control of the contest in the first inning on RBI hits by Alford and Chris Hannig.