It was not the start to the season that Southwest Mississippi Community College head baseball coach Ken Jackson wanted for his team. Mistakes and inconsistent play hurt the Bears Wednesday as they fell to rival Co-Lin 10-9 in Game 1 and 5-1 in Game 2.
“We just made too many mistakes early and too many mistakes at crucial times,” Jackson said. “We didn’t get key hits at certain times and they did, we didn’t make defensive plays at certain times and they did and we didn’t see pitches when we needed to and they did.
“It is early, it is the first games and we are playing with some young guys, guys that just need experience. That will come over a period of time.”
In Game 1, the Bears (0-2) fell behind in the top of the first as the Wolves put up three runs, all of which came via back-to-back home runs.
Two innings later, SMCC got its offense going with a pair of runs courtesy of a single by Gage Gregory and Jerod Williams touching home following a passed ball.
Over the next few innings, the Wolves slowly increased their lead to 8, putting the Bears in a deep hole. However, SMCC put together a rally in the bottom of the sixth, which consisted of two bases-loaded walks, a double from Parklane alum Braxton Cooksey and a sacrifice fly from Williams. When the dust settled, the Bears pulled within 3 at 10-7 going into the seventh inning.
After the Wolves failed to produce any more runs, the Bears put together yet another rally, pushing two more runs across. They tried to bring the tying run home but were unable to, losing in heart-breaking fashion in Game 1.
In Game 2, the Bears tried to set the tone early. Gregory led off the first inning with a double to right and advanced to third when ensuing batter Josh Bailey grounded out to first. However he was stranded at third as the Wolves got two straight outs.
Co-Lin lit up the scoreboard in the third inning with a pair of runs. SMCC tried to answer in the bottom half of the inning but the Bears were retired in order.
It hurt even more the following inning when Co-Lin added three more runs, taking advantage of an SMCC mistake.
The Bears were down but certainly not out. Doubles from Mason Barker and Jonathan Havard provided a spark, with the latter pushing a run across the plate making the score 5-1. However the momentum soon ran out as SMCC could not produce any more runs for the rest of the contest.
After the second game, Jackson praised his team’s fight but implied that reducing the mistakes is a major priority.
“We’ve got a ton of mistakes that we need to correct before the next game,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t get any easier, our schedule is loaded.
“I thought that our kids played hard, I cannot complain about the effort, but we just made too many mistakes.”