PERKINSTON — No. 13 Mississippi Gulf Coast wiped out an anemic offensive performance in Game 1 Saturday with timely hitting and effective small ball to earn a sweep against No. 11 Itawamba in the MACJC opener.
The Bulldogs (12-6) managed only four hits in a 4-1 loss in the first conference game played at the new stadium at Ken "Curly" Farris Field, but bounced back with a 9-5 win in the nightcap.
"I told them that's a big, big win," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "We're not satisfied splitting, but there's a big difference splitting and leaving here 0-2."
Chase Rhodes (So., St. Stanislaus/Bay St. Louis) reached base all four at-bats in the second game, including two hits. One of those was a bunt single, the last bit of small ball that helped energize the Gulf Coast offense.
Tyler Evans (So., D'Iberville/D'Iberville) broke a 2-2 tie with a third-inning sacrifice bunt that got thrown into right field, scoring two runs. Jacob Bullock (Fr., West Jones/Soso) had one in the fourth that ended in the same place and scored another run.
"We executed three really good bunts," Batts said. "We put them where we wanted in what we call the Hurry Zone. We made the pitcher make tough plays. That's a big team win for us."
Dylan Mills-Derouen (R-So., Biloxi/Biloxi) scatted eight hits in five innings, striking out six and walking one, to improve to 4-2.
Chris Crosby (R-So., Harrison Central/Gulfport) had a rough first inning in the first game, plunking two Indians batters and walking another to give them a 3-0 lead. He would go on to retire 13 straight at one point, allowing only four hits and striking out nine in seven innings.
"Chris left some balls up and hit two guys," Batts said. "They got some big hits when they needed to. After that, he settled in and threw really well. We just couldn't get him any run support."
Aaron Nicholson (R-So., Vancleave/Vancleave) provided the only Gulf Coast offense by cranking a second-inning solo home run.
Itawamba is 14-4.
Gulf Coast returns to action Wednesday with a trip to Copiah-Lincoln. First pitch is at 4 p.m.
After another road trip to Coahoma on March 25, the Bulldogs entertain archrival Pearl River on March 28.
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