By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
It is exam week at Northeast Community College.
And the baseball Tigers have earned extra tests this week – a good thing as far as they are concerned.
The extra tests begin today as the Tigers open play in the MACJC State Tournament against East Central at 4 p.m.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” said Northeast head coach Kent Farris, whose Tigers hadn’t reached the four-team championship round in three previous attempts under his guidance. “We got the bear off our back, and we’re ready for the next step.”
That step for the Tigers is in a double elimination format with Pearl River as the host. With Northwest and Pearl River on the other side of the bracket, a Northeast win today puts them in the 3:30 p.m. contest Friday, while a loss puts them in a noon contest on Friday.
The Tigers (30-16) advanced by virtue of a pair of wins on Monday over Gulf Coast, 9-4 and 5-4, to win their first-round series 2-1.
But while Northeast had many heroes Monday, the weather delays from that series will make it harder to advance this week.
Pitchers Tanner Gaines (7-2) from Baldwyn, Kyle Stephenson (6-1) from Booneville, and Kyle Robbins from North Pontotoc (4-1) aren’t expected to be available today because of the innings they pitched in the series.
“We’ll look at the guys we have available, and piece something together,” Farris said. “It’s tough this time of year on our front-line guys.
“We’re not a juggernaut on offense, but we pride ourselves on making every at bat a quality one. Our success depends on how hard we play.”
Will Robertson from Falkner leads the Tigers in batting with a .439 average and with 55 RBIs.
Northeast swept East Central on March 9, winning 18-8 and 10-0.