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MDCC wins Region 23 crown

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
May 13, 2002
Mississippi Delta used three early home runs to defeat Jones 8-6 for the Region 23 Division I baseball championship Sunday afternoon at Scaggs Field at Meridian Community College.
Delta was undefeated in the tournament. The Trojans won the region championship for the fourth time in the event's 17-year history. Only Meridian with seven titles has more Region 23 Division I championships.
The 27-16 Trojans will face Wallace-Hanceville next week in the Southeastern District best-of-three championship for the right to advance to the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
The Trojans took control early as Keith Fitzgerald lofted a towering two-out, two-run homer to left field. Three batters later, Johnny Phillips made it 5-0 in the first inning with a three-run blast.
Fitzgerald's walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th beat Meridian 6-2 in the first round. For the tournament, Fitzgerald batted .385 (5-for-13) with three homers, a double, four walks and 12 RBIs. He was hit by a pitch twice and scored six runs.
Juan Ortiz continued the home run derby with a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the third and chase Jones starter Matt McAlpin (9-5).
The Bobcats played long ball in the top of the fourth, getting two-run homers from catcher Wyn Spencer and first baseman Jonathan Robertson to cut the Delta lead to 6-4.
Raymond Rivera, who threw 10 innings in the first-round win over Meridian, tossed the final 3.1 frames against Jones, allowing no runs on one hit and striking out four to pick up the save.
For the tournament, Rivera threw 13.1 innings, striking out 17 while allowing only two runs and seven hits.
The Trojans got another run in the fourth as Norwood Taylor crossed the plate on a double steal attempt that saw the lead runner get thrown out between first and second base.
Jones got to within 7-6 with two runs in the top of the sixth. Chad McIlwain walked and scored on a fielder's choice by Craig Bush. Ricky Breazeale followed with an RBI-triple.
The Trojans got one run back in the bottom of the sixth as Jeffrey Baker reached on an error and scored on a based loaded walk to Fitzgerald.
Jones finished 30-24, setting a school record for wins in a season. The second-place finish in the regional is also a school record for the Bobcats.
Delta starter Ryan Roberson (5-0) went 5-plus innings to get the win.
Ortiz and Casey Smith both went 3-for-5 for Delta. Phillips was 2-for-4.
Breazeale went 3-for-5 for Jones, while Spencer went 2-for-4.

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