Meridian, MS. - Despite the disappointment of coming up just short of a doubleheader sweep yesterday at Meridian Community College, MMI head baseball coach Matt Downs has plenty of reasons for optimism here in the early goings of the 2015 season. "By going on the road against a team as talented as Meridian and earning a split, I think we proved that we can definitely compete and hold our own against anybody." After holding on for a 4-3 win in the opener, a costly 2-run error proved to be the difference for the Tigers in the 2-1 nightcap. Said Downs, "Our guys battled, and the pitchers were outstanding, but we just didn't get the job done at the plate or in the field in the second game."
In the opener, MMI manufactured a pair of runs early with a perfectly-executed squeeze play from sophomore center fielder Parker Farley and a sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman Carson McGregory. The difference in the ballgame would prove to be McGregory's two-run blast in the 6th, the first home run of his career and one he will not soon forget. Freshman starter Blake Teel worked an efficient five innings, allowing just two runs. Freshman Jackson Cofer surrendered a run in an inning of relief, and sophomore Gabe Nevala came on in the 7th and fanned two in recording his second save of the season.
The second game of the twinbill featured strong pitching performances from sophomore right-handers Joe Hudson (4 IP/0 ER/2 H/ 2 BB/3 SO) and Terrance Robinson (2 IP/1 H/0 BB/3 SO), but the only offense the Tigers could muster came courtesy of a Steven Ward solo homer.
The 5-3 Tigers have lost those three games by a combined total of four runs. While Downs is pleased with his team's effort thus far, he believes there is still considerable room for improvement. "We're a handful of mental mistakes away from being undefeated right now. We've been in every game we've played until the end, and I'm proud of the fight our guys have shown, but going forward we will all have to work hard to eliminate these miscues."
Marion (5-3) will travel to Montgomery, Alabama to take on Huntingdon College Monday, February 16 at Neal Posey Field. Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. with the nightcap to start at 6:00 p.m.