MCC drops 5-4 heartbreaker
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
March 25, 2002
One strike away. That's how close Meridian Community College was from winning its Miss-Lou Conference opening series with visiting Delgado here on Sunday afternoon at Scaggs Field.
Instead of getting the last strike in the ninth inning, Delgado manufactured themselves a two-out run sending the game into extra innings. In the 11th, the Dolphins scored twice, then held off an MCC rally in the bottom half of the inning.
Delgado left town with a 5-4 win and a firm grasp on first place in the conference. The Dolphins improve to 27-4 overall and 5-1 in league play. Meridian falls to 9-18 overall and 1-2 in conference play, a game up on Bossier Parish at 0-3.
Meridian head coach Mike Federico was in a near-livid mood following the game.
Pitcher Damien Givens was working his third inning of relief in the ninth. He got two quick outs and needed just one more to finish off a remarkable closing effort.
The Dolphins had other ideas. Lead-off man Mike Forbes took a 2-2 pitch into right field for a single. He then stole second with Matt Graziano up.
Graziano hit a grounder to short that was booted allowing Forbes to take third.
Givens came back to get an 0-2 count on the next batter in Nathan Meiners. Before the next pitch, Dolphins' coach Joe Scheuermann had Graziano stroll off first and head to second.
Givens could've stepped off and made a play. Instead, he hesitated and a balk was called giving Forbes home plate and a 3-3 tie.
Meridian got its leadoff man in Wes Shows to second in the bottom of the ninth but a double-play ball off the bat of the team's top hitter in Adam Smith ended the threat.
In the 10th, Nate Sanders walked with two out and went to second on a balk. Delgado pitcher Mark Fernandez, the Dolphins' sixth pitcher in the game, bounced back striking out Walt Bounds to end the at bat.
Givens, now working his fifth inning of relief, got two quick outs in the 11th. But a two-out walk to Jeremy Helton started a string of bad things for the Eagles.
Forbes reached on a hit to left sending Helton to second. Then Graziano took a ball up the middle scoring Helton for the go-ahead run. A wild pitch moved Forbes up to third. Meiners then singled in Forbes for a 5-3 lead with a hit to right.
That was all for Givens who went four innings but wound up taking his fifth hard-luck loss on the season.
Meridian got to within a hit of winning it in its half of the 11th. Brent Towne had a leadoff walk and Wes Shows had a great at-bat fouling off several pitches before drawing a second walk.
An infield hit by Brad McKee loaded the bases with one-out. Smith got the ball to the right side and the out managed to plate Towne to make it 5-4.
Fernandez, though, came back to strike out Brian Page on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
The loss spoiled a standout starting effort by MCC's Justin Rayborn. Rayborn went 6.2 innings allowing just two runs and one walk while striking out 10.
Delgado did manage 13 hits in the game. Forbes went 3-for-5, while Meiners was 3-for-6, which included a two-run single in the seventh that cut a 3-0 MCC lead down to 3-2.
The Eagles got two runs in the sixth to break up a 0-0 game. Chad Bradley doubled in a run while Shows had a RBI single to make it 2-0.
It went to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh when Page scored on a double by Bounds. Meridian finished with seven hits, with Shows getting a pair.