Junior Colleges

JUCO roundup: No. 3 Gulf Coast passes 40-win mark with sweep

No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast got its second straight 40-win season Tuesday by sweeping Copiah-Lincoln on the road on the strength of five home runs.

Hannah Melendrez hit two home runs in a 4-2 win in Game 1, then had another home in the second, a 16-4 win in five innings. Molly Murphy had two home runs, including a grand slam, in the second game.

The Lady Bulldogs are 41-3 and finished the MACJC regular season 25-3.

"When you look at that many wins against the opponents that we play, that says everything about this team," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "We're a solid team. We play together."

Gulf Coast opens the MACJC playoffs Friday against East Mississippi. Game 1 at Ross-Smith Field is at 6 p.m. Game 2 is Saturday at 1 p.m., with a third game, if necessary, following immediately.

The Lady Bulldogs are the first team in the state to 40 wins. It's the second season in a row past that milestone and third time in program history.

Melendrez has now hit home runs in three straight games. Her five homers in that span give her 13 for the season.

"Hannah is seeing the ball so well," Long said. "She's just absolutely on right now. They tried to get her on a changeup, she hit it out. They tried to get her on hard stuff, she hit it out. Whatever they threw, she hit it out."

She led of the second inning with a solo shot ahead of Kelli Berry's RBI single. Melendrez belted a two-run shot in the third.

Co-Lin (29-12, 19-9) got a two-run homer in the fourth to cut its deficit in half, but Nora Keehn (12-1) pitched five strong innings before yielding to Kaitlin Lee with two on and no outs in the sixth.

Lee got a double play and a fly ball to get out of the jam, then retired the side in order in the seventh for her third save.

She picked up her 20th win of the season in Game 2, pitching four innings. She struck out four and allowed three hits, with her four runs allowed unearned.

Lexie Mathis had two doubles, and Camry Griffith had two hits.

The Bulldogs had 15 hits in the second game, with Murphy slugging a grand slam in the second and added a two-run shot after Melendrez's three-run homer in the third.

Murphy has homered in three of the last four games. In two of those, she homered in her only at bat as a substitute late in games.

"I can't say enough about Molly right now," Long said. "She's taking advantage of every opportunity to play and coming up big for us. She's worked hard in practice and been very coachable."

PRCC baseball sweeps Co-Lin: Pearl River Community College used some late-inning magic to take a doubleheader sweep against Copiah-Lincoln Tuesday at Wildcat Field.

The Wildcats scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win Game 1 5-4, then took the sweep with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth for a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.

PRCC kept its flickering playoff hopes alive at 9-15 in MACJC play (24-18 overall). Co-Lin dropped to 9-26 and 4-16.

In the opener, the Wolfpack took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning and made it 4-2 in the seventh, but the Wildcats tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on Carter Hankins' leadoff triple and an RBI single by Peyton Lee after Graham Hackbarth was hit by a pitch.

The winning rally started when Hackbarth led off the home ninth with a double, Noah Nicaud singled and walk loaded the bases. Co-Lin got one out on a force at home, but Lucas Scott's grounder was bobbled, allowing Nicaud to score from third.

Billy Cox (2-2) got out the Wildcats out of bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth to keep the game tied, and earned the victory. Tanner Jones (2-3) was the losing pitcher for the Wolves.

Pearl River broke the nightcap open after Co-Lin took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a pair of bases-loaded walks. The first broke a 1-1 tie and invoked the wrath of Wildcat coach Josh Hoffpauir, which led to his ejection from the game.

The fired-up Wildcats wasted no time getting their revenge, as Chandler Ray led off the bottom of the inning with a single, took second on a passed ball and scored on Gare Teer's double.

Teer took third on a fly ball to rightfield and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Justin Demary, coming after a walk to Hackbarth. Nicaud singled to extend the inning, and Zachary Clark drove in Hackbarth with a single for the go-ahead run.

Lee and Scott followed with run-scoring singles, Scott's hit plating two runs. Demary (3-2) earned the victory after getting a strikeout to end the top of the sixth and got through the seventh with only a run allowed on three hits. Jones (2-4) took the loss for Co-Lin.

The Wildcats will complete their home schedule on Saturday against East Mississippi in a 1 p.m. doubleheader, and will finish the regular season on April 30 at Holmes.