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MCC coaches push team to win

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
May 18, 2003
BAY MINNETE, Ala Meridian Community College head baseball coach Michael Federico's long trek to the pile of players after his team defeated the Faulkner State Community College Sun Chiefs for a berth into the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., ended with a big hug from sophomore designated hitter Nathan Sanders on Saturday.
The Eagles skipper made his way back onto the playing surface from right-field corner, where he had to watch the final three innings of the Super Regional championship game.
Federico was tossed from the contest in the sixth inning after disputing the umpires' call on a tag at home plate.
MCC third baseman Van Pope dove to tag out a Sun Chiefs' runner before he touched home in the bottom half of the inning.
The Eagles corner infielder made the tag on the player for the first out of the inning and to protect MCC's 5-4 lead.
But when Pope hit the ground, on his glove-hand elbow, he also tried to toss the ball to third for what could have been the second out of the inning.
As he attempted to make the throw, the ball squirted out of his glove into foul territory.
The third base umpire ruled the Faulkner State runner safe at home on the play saying Pope lost the ball on the tag.
Federico argued with both the home plate and third base umpire with screams of Go back to Mississippi' and Sit down coach' emanating from the home-side bleachers.
The third-year MCC baseball coach was thrown out of the contest after the long disagreement, but it did give him a perfect view of right fielder Brad McKee's game tying home run and first baseman Aaron George's
game-winning double.
hands up in the air. I noticed it hit the top of the fence. (George) did a good job of using the big part of the field."
The coach's ejection also put assistant coach Chad Caillet in charge for the final 3 2/3 innings of the game.
The assistant skipper handled the pressure like a plum, inserting staff ace Todd Doolittle on the mound as the Eagles went on to win the contest.
Federico's ejection also helped motivate the team over the final innings, and McKee said the incident helped the squad make the program's sixth Junior College World Series.