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Rivera’s homer helps Co-Lin end 13-game skid

WESSON – There was happiness in Co-Lin’s third base dugout Tuesday afternoon. A 6th-inning, 2-run homer by Julio Rivera lifted the Wolfpack to an 11-9 victory over the Baton Rouge Community College Bears in Sullivan Stadium.

Most importantly, the win snapped Co-Lin’s 13-game losing streak. The Wolves (17-25, 5-17) had been in a tailspin since entering the meat of their South Division schedule. Baton Rouge, a non-division foe, helped soothe some ailing egos.

Rivera, a freshman outfielder from Deltona, Fla., smashed his game-winner, an opposite field shot over the right field fence, in the bottom of the sixth inning after 2 batters had been retired. Caleb Dugas had preceded Rivera’s at-bat with a line drive single off the top of the left field fence.

“I was just going with the pitch,” Rivera explained. “It was a fastball away. I was trying to get a hit. We were in a slump and I wanted to get a ‘W’ for the team.”

It was Rivera’s second home run of the season. It came off Baton Rouge pitcher Tyler Schuspt.

In the top of the sixth, the Bears had rallied for 7 runs and gained a 9-9 deadlock. A Jacob Williams, 2-out, full-count pitch, delivered by Co-Lin reliever Tyler Case, sailed over the left-center field fence and tied the game.

Enter Co-Lin relief pitcher Casey Hurley, a former team manager who earned himself a scholarship. Hurley, from Brandon, played his high school baseball at Copiah Academy in Gallman and was in his second year of throwing batting practice at Co-Lin. Hurley could throw strikes and that’s what got the attention of Co-Lin coach Keith Case.

“Casey threw BP every day,” said Case. “I noticed he was throwing strikes. He has the best earned run average on our team.”

Hurley’s ERA is 2.04 in 17 innings. Case said Hurley would return for his third year next season and pitch for new Co-Lin coach Clay Smith. Case is stepping down after 21 years at the helm.

“It felt real good to be pitching again,” said Hurley. “I’m happy to get a win. My slider was working good today.”

Hurley walked the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh but Christian McMorris grounded into a 1-4-3 double play. The next batter was thrown out at first to end the game.

“It was a relief to end that slump,” said Co-Lin sophomore first baseman Will Gatlin, flashing a bright smile. “We really needed a victory.”

Co-Lin concludes its 2013 season Saturday, hosting Gulf Coast for a South Division twinbill, starting at 2 p.m.