The Indians had moved up to No. 4 in a national poll and held a two-game lead in North Division play.
Then the Indians stepped between the lines to face the Holmes Bulldogs.
Holmes starting pitching limited Itawamba to just eight hits over two games, sweeping a pair of games from the Indians. Holmes took the second game 9-2, and the first 4-2.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t come out right off the bat and compete,” Itawamba head coach Rick Collier said. “Maybe it’s good we lose two like that.”
Holmes (18-15, 8-8), battling for a playoff spot, let Itawamba (27-7, 13-3) know it meant business in Game 2.
Already leading 1-0 entering the top of the fourth inning, Holmes’ Steven Blanchard took a mistake pitch by ICC starter Landon Brister into the trees in right field for a two-run home.
Then in the top of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs padded their lead. Two bunt singles and two walks helped Holmes score six runs in the frame.
“I thought mentally, we would have been better in that second game,” Collier said. “Landon Brister threw a good game, except for one or two pitches.”
Itawamba scored solo runs in the fifth and seventh innings in the contest.
In the fifth, Tupelo’s Drew Alford led off with a single, eventually scoring on an error. And in the seventh, Tupelo’s Kirk Roberts had an RBI single.
In his Game 2 start, Holmes pitcher Chris Hutchenson (2-1) went the distance, scattering four hits.
“Their Game 2 starter had a little bit more velocity,” Collier said. “He was locating a good fastball and good slider.”
Blanchard (6-2) was a bit of a thorn in the Indians side this day, starting and pitching into the seventh inning in Game 1.
“He was a crafty left against us,” Collier said. “He didn’t throw the same pitch to any batter.”
Blanchard also scattered four hits, only showing any weakness in the bottom of the fourth when Itawamba scored twice on RBI hits by Alford and Tupelo’s William Goss.
The Holmes offense plated solo runs in the first and third, gaining the win with a pair of runs in the seventh.
Itawamba was able to maintain its division lead as East Mississippi swept second-place Northwest.