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Co-Lin stuns No. 1 Pearl River

POPLARVILLE — Relaxing in the driver’s seat of the NJCAA Region23 Baseball Tournament, the Co-Lin Wolves (26-24) play host PearlRiver Community College today at 2 p.m. in the championship finalsin Wildcat Stadium. The Wolves whipped Pearl River 10-3 Saturday toland a berth in the finals of the double-eliminationtournament.

On Friday, Co-Lin knocked off the Hinds Community College Eagles12-4. Pearl River had defeated defending regional championLSU-Eunice 10-2 Friday to gain a berth opposite Co-Lin inSaturday’s opener. Trailing Pearl River 3-0, the Wolves explodedfor 10 runs in the eighth inning to secure the victory for CoachKeith Case.

“It was fun today,” said Case. “Not many teams get to beat theNo. 1 team in the nation at their place. I’m proud of what our guyshave done.”

LSU-Eunice (37-17), the defending regional champion, eliminatedHinds Saturday and lost 7-1 to Pearl River again Saturday inanother elimination game.

“Derek Thompson beat Hinds with a complete, 7-inning game,” saidCase. “We were able to save some legs and some arms.”

Co-Lin 10, Pearl River 3

Pearl River (44-11), ranked No. 1 in the latest NJCAADivision II national poll, led 3-0 until the top of the 8th. That’swhen the Wolves began a remarkable rally, led by Jody Britt whosingled twice in the 10-run explosion.

Britt, the cleanup batter, led off with a single andGarrett Jones singled an out later. Ben Sandifer reached on anerror, scoring Britt. Scotty Smith singled to load thebases.

Wildcat starter Brent Varnado (7-2) had a perfect gamegoing until the seventh. He was relieved by Corey Bass at thatpoint and he immediately walked Joseph Langham to push Jones home.Leadoff batter Josh Logan kept the 1-out rally going as he crackeda 2-RBI single to give CLCC a 4-3 lead.

Xavier Qualls was then hit by a pitch to reload thebases, setting the stage for Patrick Williams’ 2-RBIdouble.

Jacob Smith relieved Bass at that point and Brittcracked an RBI-single. Then catcher Matt Schexnayder outran a buntfor another RBI-single to make it 9-3. Ben Sandifer reached off anerror to push in the game’s final run. Seven of those runs wereearned.

Sophomore right-hander Ryan Belanger (5-7), started forCo-Lin and went the 9-inning distance. Belanger, from Houma, La.,struck out 6 and walked none, tossing a 3-hitter, all 1-base hits.Belanger raised his school-record strikeout total to102.

“Ryan only gave up one earned run,” said Case. “He has106 pitches in 9 innings.”

Case said the Wolves have played well on defense in theregional.

Co-Lin 12, Hinds 4

Thompson (6-4) scattered 9 hit in pitching the victoryover Hinds. He struck out 4 and walked 1.

Losing hurler Kyle Bridges (7-9) lasted 4 innings. Hefanned 1 batter and walked 3. The Eagles fell to 18-31 with thesetback.

Doubles by Britt, Logan, Williams and Sandifer directedthe Wolves as they erased a 4-2 deficit. Britt and Qualls both had2 hits.

Thomas Flautt homered for Hinds.