PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast heads to the NJCAA Region 23 Baseball Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Fulton, with something valuable.
"This group being in a regional for the second year in a row, they know the competition," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "They know level of play we're going to have to play with to come out of there. Hopefully, the experience having played four games in a regional carries over."
The Bulldogs (28-16) finished third in the regional last year, knocked out by eventual national champion LSU Eunice. The winner of this regional figures to have another great shot at a title.
Gulf Coast, the only unranked team in the six-team, double-elimination tournament, opens against No. 2 Itawamba (39-6-1). The Indians won the MACJC title and teams will face off a 7 p.m. in the final game of the first day. The game will be streamed at https://livestream.com/MGCCCBulldogs/events/8682139.
Five of the six teams in the regional are in the top 10 of the NJCAA's final Division II poll of the season. No. 1 LSU Eunice (48-6) opens the tournament against No. 9 Northwest (33-12) at noon, and No. 4 Jones (37-10) plays No. 6 Pearl River (36-12) at 3:30 p.m.
The Indians swept the doubleheader between the teams on the final day of the regular season, but the Bulldogs led the first game late before losing 10-9.
Gulf Coast didn't finish up its qualifying series against Meridian until Sunday, but the Bulldogs were the only lower seed to advance and the only team to sweep the best-of-three series.
The quick turnaround may put some stress on the pitching staff.
"We've got (Tyler) Hoffman who hasn't thrown in 1-1/2 weeks, and (Dawson) Hall who threw on Wednesday," Batts said. "It'll be fine. This time of year, you have to suck it up and go. The first game is the biggest one of the tournament to get into the winners' bracket. We'll see what happens after that."
2019 NJCAA Region 23 Baseball Tournament
Game 1: (3) LSU-Eunice vs. (4) Northwest, noon
Game 2: (2) Jones vs. (5) Pearl River, 3:30 p.m.
Game 3: (1) Itawamba vs. (6) Gulf Coast, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Game 3 loser vs. Game 2 loser, noon
Game 5: Game 2 winner vs. Game 1 loser, 3:30 p.m.
Game 6: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.
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