Indians bounce back with NJCAA Region 23 win over Hinds

The Itawamba Community College baseball team didn't drive 10 hours to play two game and come home in this year's National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Tournament.

The Indians (39-11) avenged a 16-5 loss to No. 14 Hinds Eagles (34-17) in last week's state tournament with a 5-2 win in the opening game of the tournament in Eunice, Louisiana.

"The guys did a great job getting focused to bounce back from our poor performance last week in the state tournament," said ICC head baseball coach Rick Collier. "You could tell by the way they got off the bus and took the field before the game they were ready to play today."

William Goss got things started with a single to right on the first pitch of the game and put the Indians up 2-0 when he and Jake Smithey scored on a double by Drew Alford, who later scored on a sac fly by Channing Nanney.

The Eagles answered with a run in the bottom of the first, but the Indians answered when Nanney doubled and scored on ground out by Dillon Mitchell in the fourth and when Cody Shrewsbury tripled and scored on a ground out by Smithey.

"Those three runs to start the game were big," said starting pitcher Ben Hudspeth, who improved to 11-0 in the win. "When you can get a lead early it makes it a lot easier to fill up the zone and go after outs with the defense playing well behind me. It was just an all-around good game for everybody today."

Hinds got a run back in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-2 and threatened with bases loaded with one out when Myles Snyder entered the game in relief of Hudspeth to get out of the jam with a six-four-three double play to end the inning.

"That was a big pitch," Hudspeth said about Snyder, who picked up his seventh save of the year. "Myles has been there for us all season as our closer. He does a good job working low in the zone and getting ground ball outs."

The Indians turned a second double play in the eight and a three up, three down bottom of the ninth to advance to Friday's 7:00 p.m. semifinal game against the winner between No. 1 and host LSU-Eunice and Mississippi Gulf Coast.