PERKINSTON — Trailing by a run to No. 16 Meridian in the seventh inning, Mississippi Gulf Coast's Brandon Parker trotted down to first after being intentionally walked to load the bases.
"I was thinking they done made a mistake," Parker said. "Cullan's about to do it right here. He's gonna pick us up and we're gonna get the W."
Cullan O'Shea (So., Mary G. Montgomery/Mobile Ala.) made them pay, matching Parker's grand slam the inning before and propelling Gulf Coast to a 10-8 win, clinching a spot in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in Fulton on Wednesday. Gulf Coast will play host Itawamba at 7 p.m.
Gulf Coast trailed in both games of the best-of-three series but rallied to win by the same score each time. The Bulldogs (28-16) were down 7-4 to start the seventh, but a two-out double by Alden Davis (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) scored two and left a base open.
"That's the third time Brandon's been walked in front of me to load the bases," O'Shea said. "I know it's Brandon, but I still take it personal. That was my goal, to punish them."
He was waiting for a fastball on a 3-1 count and got it. He mashed it over two rows of advertising in right-center field.
"I told Coach Ebers, how many times have we been in this station with the bases loaded and 3-4-5 up? At some point, it's got to go our way. Brandon hit his home run, and then when they walked him to get to Cullan, I felt good about it."
Parker hit a grand slam in the previous inning to cut into a big deficit and get the Bulldogs back in the game. He was waiting on a curveball and got it, lining one just inside the left-field foul pole.
"The score was 5-0, but the dugout was not in any panic mode," Batts said. "They knew all we had to do was get a few runners. They had confidence in each other. We kept fighting and kept playing. I'm so proud of our guys, what they did in the two games, and the way we did it."
Ian Landreneau (Fr., John Curtis/River Ridge La.) pitched three innings of relief to earn the win, striking out four. Justin Lockey (Fr., Long Beach/Long Beach) came in with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth, and allowed a sac fly and single but only one inherited runner to score to earn his first save of the year.
It's the second straight season the Bulldogs have lost twice to a team in the regular season only to sweep them out of the playoffs. Meridian finishes the season 29-15.
"We have a bunch of guys who fight for each other, who love each other, who aren't ready for the season to be over," Batts said. "We didn't the same thing last year at Northwest. You can't explain it other they're just good guys who play with a lot of heat and a lot of desire. They're fun to coach."
NJCAA Region 23 Qualifying Series
Game 1: Gulf Coast 10, Meridian 8
Game 1: Northwest 9, Northeast 5
Game 1: Pearl River 4, East Central 3
Game 1: Jones 10, Hinds 4
Game 2: East Central 1, Pearl River 0
Game 2: Hinds 6, Jones 5
Game 3: Jones 11, Hinds 0 (5 innings), Jones wins series 2-1
Game 3: Pearl River 12, East Central 4, Pearl River wins series 2-1
Game 2: Northeast 14, Northwest 3
Game 3: Gulf Coast 10, Meridian 8, Gulf Coast wins series 2-0
Game 3: Northwest 9, Northeast 1, Northwest wins series 2-1
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