PHOTO BY LEE ADAMS/LETSGOICC.COM
FULTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast fell short Friday in an elimination game at the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, losing to No. 1 LSU Eunice 9-6.
"We kind of ran out of bullets," Bulldogs coach Rodney Batts said. "They're good. They've done what they've done for a reason. We played hard, and we played OK. We got behind. We ran a little short. I hated it ended the way it did."
Gulf Coast fought until the end, getting two big home runs from Brandon Parker (So., West Harrison/Saucier). His first in the sixth hit the American flag flying about 35 feet above the 390-foot sign in dead center field. It was a solo shot that made it 6-4.
He crushed a two-run shot to left that made it 9-6 in the eighth, but the Bulldogs wouldn't get any closer. Parker finished 14 on the season and 38 in his record-breaking two-year career that saw him win NJCAA Division II Player of the Year as a freshman.
He went 3-for-3 with a double and five RBI on Friday.
"I've made some brothers that were just friends at first," he said. "We've come a long way. We've got each other's back. I'm speechless about the two years we had as Bulldogs."
Down 3-1 in the third, Alden Davis (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) hit a rare sacrifice fly to the second baseman in shallow center that saw aggressive baserunning by Ike Williams (So., St. Martin/St. Martin) pay off. Parker followed with a double to tie the game.
LSU-E (50-9) will play the loser of Friday afternoon's Pearl River-Itawamba game in the last game of the day. The winners of the last two games will meet in the championship round Saturday, and Sunday if necessary.
The Bulldogs finish the year 29-18. It's the second season in a row to end at the region tournament, putting them in rare company in the MACJC. Sixteen sophomores graduated last week.
"They've meant everything to me and this program," Batts said. "I told them right there, the sophomores, that they may not realize this, but there's only three teams in the state that have gotten as far as we have the last two years. I hope they're proud of that.
"They've accomplished a lot the two years they've been here and put Gulf Coast back where we need to be. Hopefully, we can continue what they've been able to do these last two years."
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