The 2019 East Central Community College baseball season came to an end in an NJCAA Region 23 best two-of-three playoff series as the No. 6 ranked Pearl River Wildcats won the third and deciding game 12-4 Friday, May 10, in Poplarville.

Pearl River won the opening game of the series 4-3 on May 8. East Central came back to win a 1-0 pitcher’s duel the next morning. The Wildcats then won the clinching game three on May 10 as the two-day series was extended a day due to rain.

East Central’s season ends with a 23-23 overall record. Pearl River is 36-12 and will play in the Region 23 Tournament May 15-19 on the Itawamba Community College campus in Fulton.

Itawamba was crowned the 2019 MACJC State Champion for having the best overall league record during the regular season and earned a bye and the right to host the double-elimination NJCAA Region 23 Tournament as the top seed. The next eight teams in the MACJC standings faced off in best-of-three playoff series to determine which four would join Itawamba and LSU-Eunice in the Region 23 Tournament.

The Warriors were limited to just four hits in the 4-3 game one loss, but had a chance to tie or win the game in the ninth inning.

East Central took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an error, hit batter, sacrifice bunt, and then an RBI sacrifice fly by sophomore right fielder Ken Scott (Clarkdale). The Warriors didn’t score again until the top of the ninth. Trailing 4-1, sophomore catcher Alex Hay (Lewisburg) hit a one-out double to score a run, followed by another run crossing the plate on a Pearl River error on a hard ground ball by redshirt freshman center fielder Dakota Kennedy (Choctaw Central). With runners on second and third and two outs, Pearl River was able to close out the win with a strikeout.

Hay had two hits for East Central, both doubles.

The second game of the series came down to pitching. East Central freshman right-hander Tanner Knight (Eupora) was brilliant, tossing a complete game three-hitter. All three Pearl River batters who reached base were erased by eventual double plays, and only one Wildcat runner reached third base all game.