By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
Northeast head baseball coach Kent Farris has steadfastly said he does not look ahead.
Farris and the Tigers will be home as they look Gulf Coast square in the face this weekend in the first round of the MACJC playoffs. This series was originally scheduled to begin Friday, but Game 1 was moved to noon today.
“This is something we’ve talked about since Day 1 of this season – hosting a first-round series,” Farris said. “In this league, the talent level is so equal, the team that plays the hardest in the playoffs is going to win.
“We’ve been playing pretty good, especially since spring break.”
Northeast (28-15) has a No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, winning the North Division with an 18-6 record. The Tigers have won nine of their last 10 games against North opponents.
Farris expects to start Baldwyn sophomore Tanner Gaines (7-1) in Game 1 against Gulf Coast (25-19), then Booneville sophomore Kyle Stephenson (5-1) in Game 2, which is slated for noon Sunday now in the best of three series.
Will Robertson from Falkner leads the Tigers in batting at .444 with 55 RBIs, while Farris likes the recent hitting of Justin Neal, who has hit five of his six home runs in the last three weeks.
Gulf Coast swept Northeast in the 2012 playoffs last season.
The Itawamba Indians also had their Game 1 moved to today at 6 p.m., with Game 2 on tap for Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Pearl River is supposed to have three pretty good arms,” Itawamba head coach Rick Collier said. “We’re fired up about being in the playoffs, but we could have played better this season.
“We have a pretty good team, and I think we can make some noise in the post-season.”
The No. 4 seed from the North, Itawamba (23-21) should send Hamilton sophomore Dylan Earnest (6-3) to the mound today, with Tupelo sophomore Ben Hudspeth (6-3) penciled for Game 2 today against South No. 1 Pearl River (36-10).
Jake Smith from New Hope leads ICC in batting at .346, with Ethan Gill from Pontotoc leading the team in RBIs at 28.
Notes: Northeast head coach Kent Farris had an appendectomy April 26, but is expected to be in the dugout today. … Itawamba infielder Tyler Tipton and Northeast infielder Josh Mills from Lafayette are expected to miss these first-round series.