No. 13 Bobcats ready to host MACJC State Tournament

Written By: Shawn Wansley
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Date Submitted: 2011-05-11 16:13:06

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – It’s the perfect way to culminate the first year of Community Bank Park.

Jones County Junior College’s 520-seat, $2.8 million facility will serve as host for the 2011 MACJC State Baseball Tournament.

It’s just what third-year Bobcat head baseball coach Christian Ostrander has dreamed about since the stadium was built.

“If you had to write it up, this is exactly what we had envisioned and hoped for this year for a lot of reasons,” Ostrander said last week. “It’s not just the fact of playing at home in a comfortable atmosphere, but to be able to show off this park is great.”

The Bobcats earned the opportunity to host based on two reasons.

First, they claimed the MACJC South Division crown for the second consecutive season, posting a sterling 19-5 record this year. And they defeated the East Mississippi Community College Lions 2-1 in a best-of-three, opening round playoff series last weekend at home and the highest remaining South Division team serves as tournament host.

The 13th-ranked Bobcats (35-14) will face the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers (29-17) at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The tournament begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday with a matchup between the North Division champion Holmes Community College Bulldogs (29-15) and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs (23-20).

Miss. Gulf Coast swept Itawamba in its playoff series last week. Northwest had to go three games to eliminate East Central, while Holmes had to play three games to oust Pearl River.

This week’s double-elimination tournament continues through Saturday. The top three teams in the tournament will advance to the Region 23 Tournament May 19-21 at the site of the highest remaining North team, which will either be Holmes or Northwest.

All games in the MACJC Tournament will be audiocast on and with Lance Pittman calling the play-by-play. Airtime will be five minutes before each game.

Last week, the Bobcats were solid in eliminating the Lions.

In Game 1 on Friday, sophomore pitcher Andrew Pierce gave up three hits, walked one and struck out eight to lead the Bobcats to a 13-0, five-inning victory. JCJC scored in every inning and pounded out 15 hits. Ryan Roberts homered, doubled and singled, while Vito Perna had three singles and four RBIs.

In Saturday’s Game 2, the Lions bounced back to edge JCJC, 3-2, and force a deciding third game.

In the rubber match, Bobcat pitcher Logan Riddell went six-plus innings and posted the victory, as JCJC won 10-4. He gave up five hits, walked three and struck out five. Nick Ray singled twice for JCJC, while Chad Guice and Ladd Rhodes added doubles.

Heading into the tournament, Pierce owns a 9-1 record (1.41 ERA), Perna is 8-1 (2.51) and Riddell is 8-4 (2.45). Blake McIlwain owns a 4-4 record (2.91), Ryan Waters is 3-2 (3.90) and Chase Stewart is 1-1 (1.86).

Offensively, Perna leads the team in batting average (.384), home runs (six) and RBIs (46). Zach Allen is hitting .341 and leads the team in runs scored (37). Guice hits .327, while Rhodes is hitting .316. Roberts is hitting .316 with five home runs and 30 RBIs. Chase Headrick bats .312, while Ray is hitting .302. Darion Hamilton owns a .300 average, while Graham Odom is hitting .277.

JCJC has a .311 team batting average and a 2.77 team ERA.

The Bobcats have settled on a consistent lineup, but Ostrander expects someone off the bench to step up and play a key role this week.

“There is no doubt about that,” Ostrander said. “We tell our guys all the time that are role players that have not had a lot of innings on the mound, a lot of at-bats or a lot of innings in the field to be ready. You never know when it’s going to be your time.

“You never know when an injury is going to happen and you have to be the next guy in. Or you may be asked to get the baseball on the mound and give us four or five innings when you have not thrown but a handful all year. You have to keep yourself ready mentally and physically and have that good attitude.

“We have guys who have accepted their roles and have kept themselves ready. When the opportunity presents itself, they are ready to shine.”

The Bobcats will be familiar with all of the participants in the state tournament.

They posted a 2-2 record against Northwest (winning 8-1 and losing 5-3 on Feb. 23; losing 9-8 and winning 14-0 in 5 innings on March 7); 1-0 vs. Holmes (a 6-5 victory in 8 innings on Feb. 26); and 3-1 vs. Gulf Coast (winning 10-1 and losing 3-2 on April 2; and sweeping 4-1 and 10-1 on April 26).

Northwest, JCJC’s first opponent, features several quality players, including Dex Herrington (.376, five home runs, 35 RBIs); Chad Wardlaw (.373, one home run, 25 RBIs); Bradley Noland (.366, four home runs, 25 RBIs); Jeremy Carlisle (.361, seven home runs, 41 RBIs); Drew Griffin (.360, three home runs, 29 RBIs); Drew Klepzig (.347, four home runs, 23 RBIs); and Josh Johnson (.342, 14 RBIs).

On the mound, Northwest relies on starters Garrett Radicioni (6-2, 2.84 ERA), Colt Burns (5-1, 4.13 ERA), Tarus Hervey (7-1, 4.26 ERA) and Chris Casto (3-4, 3.69 ERA).

Jimmy Braswell (1-2, 4.10 ERA, 3 saves) and Jake Brigman (2-2, 1.19 ERA) have been solid out of the bullpen.

Admission to the state tournament is $5 per session or a $12 tournament pass for all games is available. JCJC students and faculty are admitted free with ID.



MACJC State Baseball Tournament

Jones County Junior College

Community Bank Park

Thursday’s games

Game 1, Holmes (29-15) vs. Miss. Gulf Coast (23-20), 2 p.m.

Game 2, Jones County (35-14) vs. Northwest (29-17), 6 p.m.

Friday’s games

Game 3, Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 11 a.m.

Game 4, Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5, Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 6 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Game 6, Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 2 p.m.

Game 7, if necessary, 6 p.m.



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