FULTON – Clint Alford lost his leadoff job earlier this season, but ICC’s sophomore infielder took the move in stride.
He was replaced by a hitting machine – freshman Ladarrius Cole.
“I struggled bad early,” said Alford, who went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI in Saturday’s 8-4 MACJC North Division victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader against rival Northeast at Crubaugh Field. “The guy they moved to leadoff doesn’t get out.”
Cole, who entered the final weekend of the regular season batting .477, went 3-for-3 with a double in the opener against the Tigers.
But it was Alford, now batting in the No. 6 spot, who produced the key hits against Northeast in the opener. His two-run double off Tigers reliever John Andy Scott was the big blow in the Indians’ three-run sixth.
“Clint’s a competitor,” ICC coach Rick Collier said. “When a game’s on the line, you want to see Alford up there.”
Josh Chism wasn’t his usual self on the mound, but he improved to 10-0 with five innings of work before being pulled for Justin Bryant, who produced two innings of no-hit relief to earn a save.
“There wasn’t much pop on my fastball and my curveball wasn’t finding the zone,” the sophomore right-hander said. “My defense helped me out a lot.
No. 5-ranked ICC (38-10, 21-3), which locked up the North Division title earlier this month, will host a South Division opponent Friday and Saturday in a best-of-three, first-round state playoffs series.
Farris tastes victory
In Game 2, Northeast defeated the Indians 9-2 to end a 20-game losing streak to ICC and give third-year coach Kent Farris his first career win in the series.
“This was a big win for us in a lot of ways,” Farris said. “I told the kids don’t worry about the finish line, just run the race. I was proud of their effort.”
The win gave the Tigers (33-12, 17-7) a school record for victories and clinched them a host spot in next weekend’s opening round of the state tournament.
Phillip Chapman and Seth Kennedy homered for Northeast, which ended its regular season by winning 12 of 14.
Nick Mentel, which relief help from John Andy Scott and Patrick Hinton, earned the pitching win.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal