Sixth-ranked Eagles walk past Shelton State
By By Austin Bishop/Special to The Star
March 19, 2001
There is one thing Meridian Community College baseball coach Russ McNickle is sure of his Eagles will face their first big test next weekend when they travel to New Orleans to take on Delgado in Miss-Lou Conference action.
But there is also something he is not sure about whether or not his team will be ready.
McNickle said that could catch up to his 17-7 Eagles as the season goes on.
The Eagles, ranked No. 6 in the country by the NJCAA, banged out 12 hits on Sunday and were also the beneficiaries of a dozen walks, but the number that really stuck in McNickle's craw was the 12 men his squad left on base.
Antoin Gray and Dustin Cliburn were the big guns at the plate for the Eagles in Sunday's contest, which was a makeup date from a previously rained-out game.
Gray had a three-run double to go along with a single and another two-bagger. Cliburn had three singles and two RBIs and also stole two bases.
While leadoff man Travis Garner was just 1-for-3 at the plate, those numbers were deceptive. He reached base all six times he came to the plate, picking up a single to go with three walks, while reaching base twice on Shelton errors.
The Buccaneers, who made five errors on the day, fell to 11-8 on the season.
The Eagles, who travel to Scooba on Wednesday to play East Mississippi Community College in a single game at 6 p.m., took a 1-0 lead in the first when Garner walked and later scored on Cliburn's first single of the game.
Shelton scored twice in the top of the second off starting pitcher Brian Reed (3-0), before MCC took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning thanks to a four-run explosion.
Gray's three-run double and another run-scoring single by Cliburn sparked the MCC second-inning attack.
After MCC picked up a single run in the third and two more in the sixth to go up 8-2, Shelton scored three times in the seventh to cut it to 8-5.
But the Eagles answered with five runs, including a two-run single by Adam Smith, to break the game open.
Curt McLellan (3-2) will get the start on the mound for MCC on Wednesday against the Lions, while Chord Robinson (1-2) will take the mound when Gulf Coast pays a visit to Scaggs Field at 4 p.m. on Thursday.