Eagles clinch Miss-Lou crown
By By Austin Bishop/Special To The Star
April 22, 2001
The Eagles of Meridian Community College got the job halfway done on Saturday afternoon, as they beat Bossier Parish (La.) Community College 2-1 in the first game of a doubleheader to clinch the Miss-Lou Conference crown.
But the visiting Cavaliers won a 6-5 thriller in the nightcap to win their 40th game of the season and clinch second place in the conference and a spot in the Region 23 Tournament, which will be held at MCC's Scaggs Field.
He said tomorrow's matchup with Bossier at 2 p.m. was a big one for his team. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 8 in the country by the NJCAA.
Martin LaRocca (7-2) pitched a complete game in the opener for MCC, allowing just three hits.
Bossier took a 1-0 lead in the first game when Ryan Frith reached on a fielder's choice in the top of the third and later scored on a single by lead-off man Danny Guidry.
MCC, now 31-14 overall and 8-3 in Miss-Lou play, tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer by Dustin Cliburn, his 14th of the season.
The Eagles went ahead in the sixth when Antoin Gray mashed a hanging curveball just above the rocks that spell out MCC on the hill behind the left-center field wall.
LaRocca, who went 8-5 in 2000, hit his stride in the closing weeks of the regular season last year, and seems to be about to get into a groove again.
The fact that he gets stronger later in the year was not lost on the University of Alabama signee.
The MCC win dropped Bossier Parish starter Jered Salazar to 11-1 on the season. LaRocca said he knew he was going to matched up against Salazar and was looking forward to it.
Gray, LaRocca and McNickle all three said they were impressed by the Cavaliers and the way they play the game.
The Eagles nearly pulled off a come-from-behind victory in the second game, scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Bossier reliever Barry Melancon struck out pinch-hitter Chris Wright with the bases loaded to pick up the save and hand the Cavaliers the win.
Bossier scored three runs in the second to take the 3-0 lead, only to have MCC pick up three in the bottom of the third to tie the game thanks to a run-scoring double by Cliburn and a two-run single by Tyler Scarbrough.
The Cavaliers, now 5-6 in Miss-Lou action and 40-11 overall, regained the lead with an unearned run in the fifth and then stretched it to 6-3 on a towering two-run homer by Justin Bourque in the top of the seventh.
MCC used an RBI single by Cliburn and a sacrifice fly by Scarbrough to cut it to 6-5. The Eagles then loaded the bases thanks to a single by Matt McCleskey and a walk by Adam Smith, before Melancon recorded the big strikeout.
Bossier starter Brandon Migues (9-1) picked up the win, while Brian Reed (5-2) was hit with the loss.