POPLARVILLE – Team Caver’s team hitting has been hard to ignore since opening day for the Deep South Summer Collegiate League.
Spearheading the explosive offense on Wednesday’s 12 -5 win over Team Floyd was Landon Jordan (Mississippi State).
Jordan’s bat hit two home runs on the day and opened the game with a solo home run on the game’s second pitch.
“It was a good pitch,” Jordan said. “The first pitch was a heater down, so I knew what his fastball was, and I had a pretty good idea that he was coming again with a fastball. It was over the outer half of the plate. I just put a good swing on it.”
Team Floyd answered in the second inning as Petal alum Matt Mercer (Pearl River CC) tied the game 1-1 with an RBI single.
Team Caver responded with a four-run frame in the third inning by capitalizing from Team Floyd’s starting pitcher Hayden Robb (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC), who walked three batters and threw two wild pitches. Austin Garrison (East Mississippi CC) also came up with an RBI double to give Team Caver a 5-1 lead.
Team Floyd did manage to quickly answer with a pair of runs to cut the lead to 5-3.
However, Team Caver put the game away as Team Floyd relief pitcher Karsten Knobles (MGCCC) loaded the bases with one out and Jordan on deck. Jordan made Knobles pay with a grand slam over the left-center wall and give Team Caver a 9-3 lead. Jordan finished the game 2-for-3 with five RBIs and one walk.
“I knew he didn’t have anywhere to put me,” Jordan said. “He had to throw to me. It was 0-2, so you have to come to me eventually, and I just put another good swing on the ball.
“It was one of those days. I was seeing it well today and it went my way. I haven’t hit leadoff in a while, but I did in high school and in travel ball. I like hitting leadoff, but like I said I just saw it well. I’ve hit multiple home runs in a game before, but today was a pretty good day.”
Coming to close the game on the mound for Team Caver was Petal alum Cole Sellers (East Central CC). In his three innings pitched and with the game out of reach for Team Floyd, Sellers squared off against his former Petal teammates Mercer and Logan Walters.
Sellers faced off against Walters to start his outing on the mound and hit him on his first pitch. Despite giving up the leadoff base, Sellers picked up a double play and pitched a clean inning. For Sellers, becoming comfortable on the mound again has been a notable adjustment to make since he had spent so much time away from baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is my second game pitching,” Sellers said. “I’m the youngest kid out there. I’m still 17. I wasn’t nervous, but it’s just getting back into the groove of things after being gone for so long (that was the challenge).
“(Collegiate hitting) is way different than high school. You have two or three kids in high school that are really good hitters, but it's way different in college.”
However, in the sixth inning, Mercer stepped to the plate and knew what to expect from his old teammate.
“I was facing my teammate,” Mercer said. “We always have been friends, but I was looking for a good pitch to hit. He left it up. I was sitting on it. It’s a friendly competition and glad to compete with him. We are both going to the next level, and for the next two years, I’ll be competing against him.”
With two outs and on Sellers’ second pitch, Mercer hit a solo home run.
“He was leaving a few pitches up, but he has a good curveball,” Mercer said. “He just has to get more command on that. He’ll adjust quickly. I’ve seen good things from him and in the future with East Central.”
In Sellers’ final line, he allowed one run off two hits and hit two batters while securing Team Caver's win.
“I was laughing about it,” Sellers said. “My curveball wasn’t working too great, and he knew it was going to either be a fastball or curveball inside. It’s friendly competition.”