Wolves nail key wins; face LSU-Eunice today
RAYMOND — From the moment he stepped off the bus to the secondhe left the field, Cole Zumbro made it clear. The Franklin Countynative and sophomore pitching ace from Co-Lin knew the stakes werestacked against him. But, still he didn’t let anyone one know, heinstead manned up and put on a show. One that kept theCopiah-Lincoln Wolves alive one more day in the Division Two SouthRegional Tournament at Hinds Community College.
Co-Lin eliminated reigning state champion Pearl River 4-2 andthe host Hinds Eagles 9-3. The Wolves play LSU-Eunice today at 1:00p.m. with a necessary second game 30 minutes following theconclusion of the first.
The Wolves must win two for their season to continue.
“We battled back and played two very good games.” said Co-Linhead coach Keith Case. “We were fatigued but we got the job done.I’m proud of our guys for that.”
Case’s Wolves (32-17), playing their sixth game in six days,jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning of game onewith Pearl River. The Wildcats, (42-10) ranked second nationally,were coming off a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to LSU-Eunice the nightbefore.
“Playing them in the first elimination game, few people gave usa chance.” said Co-Lin starting pitcher Cole Zumbro. “Everyonethought we were done. But they were wrong.”
Zumbro, a 6-3, 220-pound native of Eddiceton in eastern FranklinCounty, overwhelmed the Wildcats with near 90-mph heat and a wickedslider that kept several Pearl River batters guessing.
“I just gave my best,” added Zumbro. “Once we got the lead Iknew I had to keep it.”
Co-Lin gave Zumbro a 2-0 lead heading into the third off a keyJeffrey Waycaster sacrifice. The play allowed freshman speedsterKeeyon Sanders to score from third base. Sanders reached on adouble and a stolen base.
“Getting the lead early helped,” said Sanders. “It allowed us toget some more momentum going.”
Pearl River answered Co-Lin’s lead with a pair of solo home runsfrom freshmen shortstop Bailey Hartel and catcher Keith Winstead.Both clubs were deadlocked at two-apiece after three innings ofaction.
“After they got those two hits off of me, I just came back.”said Zumbro. “We had to win this.”
Zumbro answered with a double in the fourth and later scored offa Jody Britt single to give Co-Lin back the lead at 3-2. The Wolvesadded another run in the sixth for a 4-2 advantage.
In the seventh, Co-Lin allowed Zumbro a breather as freshmanRyan Belanger replaced him on the mound. The Houma, La. nativeclosed the game out with four strikeouts in two innings ofwork.
Zumbro (7-2) got his seventh win of the season with fourstrikeouts and one walk. He allowed two earned runs and leads theteam with seven wins.
For Pearl River, freshmen southpaw Craig Rodriguez (6-3)suffered the loss with three strikeouts and three walks.
At the plate, Hartel led the Wildcats with a homer and a single.Pearl River’s nation leading home run hitter, Rhyne Hughes went1-4. He struck out twice and tripled. Hughes hit 18 homers thisseason in NJCAA action.
For Co-Lin, Sanders led the Wolves with two doubles and twostolen bases. Waycaster added two RBI’s.
Co-Lin 9, Hinds 3
Hinds (19-23) wasted no time in taking the lead as they jumpedout to a 3-0 first inning decision. The Eagles were aided by a twoRBI double from freshman Jeremy Ferguson.
“After they took the lead, we just regrouped ourselves.” saidCase. “We were playing tired but we overcame that and got thingsgoing.”
Case watched his team score four runs in the fourth frame, twoin the fifth and three in the seventh for a 9-3 advantage. Freshmenpitcher Colby Beach kept the Eagles silent with 11 strikeoutsthrough eight innings of action.
“Colby pitched a really good game,” continued Case. “He stayedcomposed after the first inning and fought back.”
With Beach throwing strikes and the Wolves hitting solidly, Casebrought in Loyd Star native Cass Brister to close the game out inthe ninth. Brister struck one batter out and collected twopop-fly’s to end the game.
“We’re tired to say the least now,” added Case. “But still weprevailed. Pitching wise it will be up to our staff today. Cole,Colby, and Tyler Perrett (who started Wednesday) won’t be able toplay today. They have done threw enough bullets.”
Beach (5-5) collected the win for the Wolves his fifth of theseason.
For the Eagles, sophomore Tyler Brown suffered the loss with twostrikeouts and four walks.
At the plate, Ferguson led the Eagles with a single and adouble.
Leading Co-Lin was Zumbro with three singles and two RBI’s.Sophomore Catcher Diego Nucete singled twice for two RBI. Sanders,Waycaster, Casey Ginn and Patrick Williams also hit safely.