The sophomore right-hander from Louisville, Kentucky; Luke Reed, struck out 11 in a two-hit shutout to beat the Tigers 3-0 to earn the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) Bulldogs (6-11) a split in both teams’ MACCC opener.
The Northeast Mississippi Tigers (10-5) won the first game 5-3 despite being outhit 11-7 but were able to turn a couple of key double plays to end Gulf Coast threats.
Reed faced two batters over the minimum, and he walked just one. That came with one out in the seventh, and he promptly rolled a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
“That was really good,” Gulf Coast coach Bob Keller said. “I don’t know if we could scan the box scores across the state and find a better box score than that. The velocity jumped a little today, but he really pitched. He used four pitches for strikes and did a great job managing the zone. I told our guys that’s what tough looks like, right there. Just moving on the next pitch, ultra-focused, ultra-locked in. It couldn’t happen for a better kid.”
Reed struck out 11 of the first 15 hitters he faced. He struck out every Tiger batter except for two, and he struck out four of them twice.
The Bulldogs were facing 6-foot-7 righty Colby Holcombe, who hadn’t allowed a run all season. They struck for two in the third, with the rally started by a single by catcher Thomas Hollingsworth. He advanced to third on a single by Cade Crosby (Fr., Long Beach/Gulfport), who then got intentionally caught in a rundown to let Hollingsworth score.
Brendan McCauley (So., Gulfport/Harrison Central) reached on an error, advanced to third on a single by Sean Smith (Fr., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) and scored on another single by Alex McWhorter.
Holcombe struck out 10 in 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and two walks. Two of his runs allowed were earned.
That was all Reed needed, but the Bulldogs tacked on another in the sixth on an RBI single by Kade Carpenter (Fr., Vancleave/Vancleave).
“We knew we’d be facing some velocity today, so we just wanted to put the ball in play and put some pressure on them at the right times,” Keller said. “Good fortune came out way, but our guys scratched and clawed.
“That easily could have been a different day. The first game was tight, and we had a real good effort from DeLano and a big hit form Sean.”
Matthew DeLano (So., Biloxi/Biloxi) struck out eight in six innings of the first game, allowing two runs on four hits. He left with the game tied at two, but Northeast got a two-run homer in the seventh and another run in the eighth.
Crosby had a solo homer in the eighth, but two singles to lead off the ninth were wasted after a double play and fly out to center.
Crosby also had an RBI double in the fifth, and Preston Ratliff (So., Slidell, La./Northshore) had an RBI single in the fourth. Ratliff and McWhorter had two hits in the opener, as well.
Gulf Coast is scheduled to host Meridian on Tuesday, but the date may change because of predicted bad weather. First pitch in the doubleheader is scheduled for 3 p.m.