PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast got six RBI each from Dee Hawthorne and Miller Hancock, and both hit clutch homers in the first game of a sweep of Mississippi Delta at Ken "Curly" Farris Field on Saturday.
The Bulldogs won the opener 10-8 thanks to a grand slam by Hawthorne and a three-run shot by Hancock. They won the second game 11-1 in five innings.
"They came up big today in RBI situations," Gulf Coast coach Rodney Batts said. "Every time they came up, there were men in scoring position and they came through."
Gulf Coast (17-5, 8-1 MACJC), winners of 16 of its last 17, remains in first place in the MACJC with a huge doubleheader coming up Tuesday. Archrival Pearl River (20-5, 5-3) visits after splitting with Meridian on Saturday. First pitch will be at 3 p.m.
The Bulldogs are in front of Itawamba (8-2) by a game and two games in front of Hinds (6-2), Meridian (6-2) and Northwest (7-3).
Gulf Coast had to battle back twice from deficits in the first game. Down 2-0 in the fourth, Hawthorne capped a five-run fourth with a line drive grand slam to left.
He finished the day 3-for-7 to extend hitting streak to nine games and is batting .500. The freshman from Harrison Central is slugging 1.550 with five home runs and 22 RBI.
"I'm not going to be cocky about it," Hawthorne said. "I've been working in the cages, but everything contributes to the team. It's all about the team."
Delta answered with four in the fifth and two in the seventh to take an 8-5 lead. That set the stage for a lightning-quick rally. Fisher Ray (So., George County/Bruce) hit the first pitch in the bottom of the inning for a single, and Ike Williams (So., St. Martin/St. Martin) followed with a first-pitch single of his own.
Hancock blasted the next pitch over the right-field wall to tie it up.
"I got a fastball outside," he said. "I just stayed on it and went the other way."
Hawthorne singled later in the inning to make it 9-8, and Hancock added a sacrifice fly in the eighth for an insurance run.
Gulf Coast scored four in the first two innings of the second game, including back-to-back homers by Williams and Hancock to lead off the second.
Alden Davis (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in four runs. Hancock went 3-for-3.
Truitt Smith (So., Stone/Wiggins) improved to 2-1 with 4.2 innings of five-hit ball.
Delta falls to 10-14, 2-8.
The Pearl River doubleheader starts a challenging stretch which includes games against Northwest, Hinds and Meridian.
"I look at our conference season in thirds," Batts said. "This finishes the first third, but the next stretch starting Tuesday, we've got teams who are right with us. It really starts now. If we want to be a championship team, we're going to have to keep playing the way we've been playing against really good competition."
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