May 15, 2016
Mendenhall High School product Billy Cameron’s two-run, bases-loaded, walk off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the No. 14 East Central Community College Diamond Warriors a 13-12 victory over No. 2 Jones County Junior College in the championship game of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges Baseball Tournament Saturday night, May 14, at Community Bank Park.
JCJC jumped out to an early two-run lead in the top of the first, but ECCC answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
The game went back in forth until Jones jumped out to a 12-9 lead in the top of the sixth.
The Diamond Warriors rallied to close its deficit to 12-11 going into the ninth.
Will Kennedy of Union High School lead off the ninth and advanced to second on a two-base error.
Cole Prestegard of Huntsville (Ala.) High School struck out for the first out of the inning, but Kennedy was able to advance to third on a pass ball.
Brandon Clark of Neshoba Central High School reached first on a fielder’s choice as the pitcher Dalton Skelton elected to throw home before Kennedy returned safely to third base.
JCJC intentionally walked Matt Mitchell of Lake High School after Clark stole second on the first pitch of the at-bat. This set up Cameron’s walk-off single to right field, which won the game in walk-off fashion after scoring Kennedy and Blake Paben of Madison Central High School, who had replaced Clark as a courtesy runner.
Channing Wall of Louisville High School got the win in relief for the Diamond Warriors. Wall pitched three and one-third innings allowing no runs and striking out four.
Clark, Prestegard, and Cameron each had three RBI in the championship game.
Previously facing Jones in the MACJC State Tournament Friday night, ECCC made a comeback after falling behind early to Jones’ Bobcats.
East Central won the ballgame after Nathan Roseberry of Purvis High School scored on a pass ball in the bottom of the ninth, 14-13.
ECCC trailed the entire game until T.J. Lockett of Bibb County (Ala.) High School hit an RBI single to tie the ballgame at 13.
The Diamond Warriors rallied in the fifth inning to close it deficit scoring six runs on one hit, four walks, three hit batsmen, and a balk to bring the score to 9-8.
Mitchell racked up four RBI on three hits for the Diamond Warriors. He blasted a solo-home run in the fourth inning and singled in the second and eighth innings.
Wall picked up the win for the Diamond Warriors after striking out two and allowing two runs over three two-third innings.
With the wins, ECCC improves to 36-15 overall, and will host the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament May 19-22 on the Decatur campus. JCJC drops to 45-7 and also qualified for the region tournament, along with Northwest Mississippi Community College and LSU-Eunice.
In first round games at the Clark/Gay Baseball Complex, JCJC will face top-ranked LSU-Eunice and ECCC will face Northwest.
An official tournament bracket will be released Monday, May 16.
East Central won the 2013 MACJC State Tournament and finished third in 2014. The Diamond Warriors advanced to the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament both years.
This marks the fourth state baseball championship for East Central Community College and Neal Holliman’s third as head coach of the Diamond Warriors.