FULTON, MS (HINDS ATHLETICS) – For the second time in the last three seasons, the Hinds Community College baseball program staked its claim as the best team in the state of Mississippi, as the Eagles defeated Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, 6-5, to win the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) state championship in Fulton on Saturday.
Hinds (34-16), which also won the MACJC state title in 2010, went through the state tournament unscathed, defeating Jones County Junior College, host Itawamba Community College and Gulf Coast in consecutive days.
The Eagles, winners of five consecutive games, will now head to LSU-Eunice for next week's Region XXIII tournament as the number one seed. A bracket with times and opponents will be posted on the Hinds athletics website as soon as it is announced.
Andrew Gunn (Clinton) picked up the win on the mound in relief of starter Kirk Thornton (Flora). Gunn moved to 4-0 with the win after going one and two-thirds innings and allowing two runs on two hits.
Nathan Aultman (Mangham, La.) earned his first save of the season by throwing the final 11 outs of the game, displaying overpowering stuff and allowing only three hits and one run, while also picking up two strikeouts.
"I can't say enough good things about this group of guys," said Hinds head coach Sam Temple. "They have shown an incredible amount of resiliency over these last two weekends and I am proud to have the opportunity to be their coach."
Hinds excelled in all three phases of the game over the last three days, receiving pitching performances that lasted deep into ballgames, displaying near flawless defense (zero errors and three double plays turned on Saturday) and timely hitting throughout the lineup.
The Eagles recorded double digit hits in all three games, including 11 hits on Saturday.
Justin Smith (Florence) continued his torrid pace today, picking up three hits on the afternoon. The freshman catcher had eight hits during the state tournament out of the cleanup spot in the lineup.
Akiko Thompson (Clinton) had two hits in the championship game out of the leadoff spot, and was on base seemingly every inning for the Eagles, who amazingly enough had lost seven consecutive games heading into the state playoffs before turning things around in a big way.
Caleb Baucum (Byram) had a two-run single in the third inning to give Hinds an early lead, one in which it would not relinquish. He would add another hit to collect multiple hits in the championship contest.
Joseph Veazey (Brandon) picked a great time for his first home run as an Eagle, depositing a ball over the left field wall to put Hinds up 5-1 in the fourth inning. A passed ball in the next inning would give them their sixth and final run, which proved to be enough for the title.
(COURTESY: HINDS ATHLETICS)