Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Tigers baseball team won its first-round playoff series.
That earned the Tigers a game with No. 1.
The MACJC State Tournament gets underway today with Northeast as the host. The Tigers’ first pitch is at 4 p.m. against the nation’s top-ranked NJCAA team, the Jones County Bobcats.
The other side of the bracket in the double-elimination tournament has East Central against Hinds at noon.
“The players have exams this week, and if they can get through that, they get to play some baseball,” Northeast head coach Kent Farris said. “The players are not satisfied with just being here.”
The Tigers (27-18) got to this point by finishing No. 2 in the North Division, then edging Pearl River in three games last weekend. Game 3 of that series included an eighth-inning home run by New Albany sophomore Easton Hall that provided the winning runs in a 12-11 victory.
“That series was a total team effort,” Farris said. “Easton had the big hit in Game 3, and Riley Alef had a great three-game series, probably his best all year.”
Northeast will need all hands on deck for this tournament, beginning with Jones (40-11). The visitors are coming off a two-game sweep of Holmes 12-2 and 7-6.
Trent Turner from Brandon leads the Tigers in batting at .431, with Heath Wood from Kossuth at .371. On the mound, Farris was probably going to make his decision Wednesday on who to pitch, which could include David Gibson (5-2) from Kossuth and Ethan Taylor (4-2) from Arlington, Tenn.
“Jones is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, and they have an outstanding pitching staff,” Farris said. “But at this point in the year, everybody’s good.”
For Jones, Chase Hensley from Humboldt, Tenn., is batting .408, with Tyler Graves from Petal at .377, and Trent Giambrone from Metarie, La., at .373. J.G. Miley from Tupelo is fifth on the Jones team in runs scored with 29.
On the mound, Weston Stringer from Terry is 10-2 overall in 81 2/3 innings.
If the weather does not disrupt the schedule, the losers of Northeast-Jones and East Central-Hinds will play at 10 a.m. Friday, with the winners at 1 p.m. There will be another loser’s bracket game at 4 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is slated for noon Saturday.