Morgan leads Eagles to victory
By By Tony Krausz/staff writer
May 17, 2003
BAY MINNETE, Ala. Josh Morgan's return to his home state suited the big slugger well.
The Meridian Community College left fielder, who is a native of Thomasville, Ala., terrorized the Faulkner State Community College Sun Chiefs pitching staff in the first two games of the Super Regional series on Friday.
Morgan blasted two home runs in the two games, and he finished the day going 6-for-9, with five RBIs.
The Eagles No. 4 hitter's work helped the team capture the opening game of the best-of-three series 6-5, but MCC (38-17) fell 6-4 in the second game to Faulkner State (25-27).
MCC struggled at the plate over the 18 innings of ball played under an oppressive heat.
The Eagles notched 14 hits combined in the two games, and the team clad in the old school' green jerseys, with the white trim around the sleeves, hit into 16 ground outs.
Faulkner State racked up 22 hits over the two games.
In the first game, Morgan erased an uncharacteristic poor start by Eagles ace Todd Doolittle with his fourth hit of the opening contest.
The 6-foot-2 outfielder smashed a rainbow flyball over the left-center field wall just to the left of a giant American flag to erase a two-run Eagles deficit in the top of the ninth inning.
Morgan's 14th homer of the year brought home right fielder Brad McKee, who led off the final inning of play drawing a walk, to even the score at five.
Center fielder Sam Self gave MCC a one-run lead three batters after the game-tying home run.
The Eagles center fielder dropped a 1-1 count pitch down the first-base line for a bunt single.
Self's picture-perfect bunt rolled halfway down the line allowing Van Pope, who smacked a single to center field and advanced to third on Ricky Newman's single, to score the game winning run.
The three-run ninth kept Doolittle from suffering his second loss of the year.
MCC's right-hander was knocked off the mound after recording one out in the second inning. Doolittle gave up four runs on three hits in his shortest outing of the year, 1 1/3 innings.
But Eagles reliever Jason Phillips saved the game taking over the mound duties in the second, with the bases loaded.
Phillips induced a double play to end the second. The freshman pitcher guided the Eagles through the final 7 2/3 innings giving up one run on six hits, with three strike outs, for the victory.
The Sun Chiefs appeared to be in control of the game early scoring a pair of runs in the first and second innings.
Faulkner State notched a 2-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of three hits.
The host team stumbled in the top of the second giving up three runs to the Eagles on one hit, while committing three errors.
Faulkner State regained its composure in the bottom of the inning notching two runs on no hit, four walks and one hit batter for a 4-3.
The score stood for four innings until Sun Chiefs first baseman William Crawford knocked in a run with a sacrifice ground out for a 5-3 lead.
Morgan finished the opening game going 4-for-5 at the plate, with two RBIs, and Self went 3-for-5.
Morgan appeared to catapult the Eagles into the driver's seat of the series again in the second game with his bat. The slugger hit his second homer of the day to lead off the bottom of the sixth for MCC.
Morgan's encore round-trip shot sailed over the center field wall into the thicket of trees behind the field, and his home run again tied the game, this time at four.
thought we were unstoppable. It humbled us and brought us back down."
The Eagles were unable to capitalize on the momentum for a second time, as the Sun Chiefs retook the lead in the top of the eighth inning.
Faulkner State catcher Ryan Nichols brought home the go-ahead run with a double to left-center.
The two-bag hit allowed third baseman Josh Banashak, who reached base to lead off the inning on a dropped fly ball in center field, to score for a 5-4 Sun Chiefs' lead.
Faulkner State added an insurance run to its margin in the top of the ninth inning, as MCC reliever Damien Givens walked the first batter he faced after relieving game-two starter Chris Rayborn.
The free pass by the bullpen arm came with the bases loaded and allowed Crawford to score for the Sun Chiefs.
Rayborn took the loss in the second game giving up six runs on 13 hits, with three strike outs.
Faulkner State game-two reliever Carl Upton, who came in for starter Cole Basinger in the fifth inning, picked up the win.
The Vicksburg native allowed one run on one hit over 4 2/3 innings, with five strike outs.
MCC and Faulkner State play the rubber game of the series at 3 p.m. today.
The winner of the third game advances to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.