Mississippi Gulf Coast had a wild road trip to Decatur on Wednesday, part of a continuing nail-biting playoff push.
The Bulldogs rode a tremendous Game 1 first inning and survived a rain delay to win 18-3, then mounted a furious four-run seventh-inning comeback in the nightcap before falling 7-6 on a two-out, walk-off home run.
"Being down four in the seventh, it shows a lot of heart and character," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "We're fighting for a playoff spot and that shows what it means to them."
Gulf Coast (24-18, 13-13 MACJC) is tied for ninth in the conference standings with Copiah-Lincoln. The Bulldogs play a doubleheader Saturday at 12th-place Northeast to close out the regular season. Co-Lin entertains Delta, which is tied for fifth.
It couldn't have started any better for MGCCC, which scored nine times before East Central stepped in the batter's box.
"The first inning was one of those innings that's unbelievable," Batts said. "We got nine runs and five doubles. We were just squaring everything up and driving it, getting momentum and energy in the dugout."
Starter Ty Barnes (Fr., Petal/Petal) was dealing on the mound, cruising through four innings as the lead grew to 12-2. But a thunderstorm caused a rain delay in the top of the fifth, and Barnes (4-3) had to be relieved after the long break.
Grant Atwood (Fr., Vancleave/Vancleave) pitched the last three innings for his first save of the year.
Ian Goff (So., George County/George County) had three hits, including a home run and a double. Tyler Evans (So., D'Iberville/D'Iberville), who went on to extend his hitting streak to 30 games in the second game, had three hits, including a double.
Chase Fagan (R-Fr., Hancock/Hancock County), Logan McGrew (Fr., Sumrall/Sumrall) and Champ Davison (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) had two hits each. Davison reached base all six times he batted with a triple, a single, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Gulf Coast continued its offensive ways in Game 2, scoring in the first two innings. The Bulldogs gave Brandon Kennedy (So., Choctaw Central/Philadelphia) the ball, and the closer was effective into the sixth inning.
"Brandon gave us a really good chance to win," Batts said. "Just having to go to a reliever, he hasn't started a game in two years."
East Central (30-14, 16-10) had tied the game at 2 heading into the sixth, when they struck for four runs.
Gulf Coast, however, struck right back. Colby Cagle (Fr., West Harrison/Lizana) and Goff singled before Davison and Chase Rhodes (So., St. Stanislaus/Bay St. Louis) were hit by pitches. Another run scored on a wild pitch and another on an error.
McGrew grounded into a double play to tie the game at 6, but Mason Sullivan (So., Harrison Central/Saucier) gave up a two-out walk-off home run that ended the long day.
"I'm proud of them," Batts said. "That's a tough place to play. Anytime you can go over there and get one, you're glad. It would have been nice to get two heading into the last day."
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