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 May 12, 2014

Booneville, Miss. - Heath Wood placed himself among the elite athletes in the history of the Northeast Mississippi Community College baseball program during his final game in a black and gold uniform.

Wood collected the 100th hit of his phenomenal career as a Tiger in a 12-4 loss to East Central Community College during the first elimination game of the 2014 Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Tournament on Friday at Harold T. White Field.

The Warriors advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Tournament next weekend in Ellisville with the win. Northeast concluded another extraordinary campaign on the diamond at 27-20.

Wood reached the illustrious mark in the sixth inning. The sophomore from Corinth lined a single up the middle to become one of just a handful of Tigers to cross the century mark in career base knocks.

“I’ve just got to thank all the coaches for the hard work they put in with me at practice,” said Wood. “It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. It’s been two good years here.”

“Heath has done a fabulous job for us,” Northeast head coach Kent Farris said. “A lot of hard work went into that. He’s a great athlete, but an extremely hard worker. It’s just a culmination of his hard work and desire and the way he plays the game.”

Wood also scored his 100th run as a Tiger the day before on Easton Hall’s RBI single in the seventh inning against top ranked Jones County Junior College.

In this contest, East Central grabbed an early lead in the second after Northeast turned its 25th double play of the season to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard in the opening frame.

Cody Daigle got East Central’s offense in motion with a sacrifice fly that plated John Morgan Berry. Chance Whitten and Zach May followed with a pair of RBI doubles to put the Warriors ahead 3-0.

Northeast responded in the latter half of the inning and loaded the bases with two outs when Ben Foster was plunked, Drew Wray singled and Jordan Montgomery walked.

Wood and Hall then took back-to-back full count walks that forced two runners to touch home plate to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 3-2.

Trent Turner helped Northeast knot the matchup in a 3-3 tie in the fifth when he doubled for his team-best 19th extra base hit of the year and later scored on Wray’s single to centerfield.

The stalemate was short lived, however, after the Warriors added a pair of runs in the sixth. Lane Fazende tripled into the left-centerfield gap to plate Kyle McCullouch and pinch runner Cojuante McMillian to make it 5-3 in favor of East Central.

The Warriors (24-26) extended their advantage to 7-3 just before the seventh inning stretch on a two RBI single by Berry that brought Hunter Thrower and Dylan Little home.

East Central put the matchup out of reach for the home standing Tigers by scoring five runs in the eighth. Berry and McCullouch each had RBI hits in the frame to aid the Warriors in taking a 12-3 lead.

Turner hit his ninth sacrifice fly of the campaign, which leads the country, to plate Luke Stanley in the bottom half, but Northeast could not put together another rally and was knocked out of the postseason.

Conner West (4-0) earned the victory in relief for East Central by scattering four hits and giving up no runs in 2.2 innings of work.

Ethan Taylor (4-3) was one of six Tiger hurlers to see action against the Warriors. The Arkansas Tech University signee started and went 5.1 frames with seven hits and five runs allowed.

Blake Drabik tossed a scoreless eighth in the final defensive inning for Northeast during the 2014 campaign.

“It’s tough any time you end the season on a losing note, but I’m very proud of what these guys have accomplished,” Farris said. “These guys did everything we asked them to, worked their tails off and good things happened to them. We left a pretty high mark for the freshman to strive for next year.”

Wood wrapped up his time in Booneville with a six-game hitting streak. The Kossuth High School graduate also reached base in 12 outings in a row.

Brandon’s Turner pulled off an incredible feat as well by reaching base for 20 straight contests to conclude a remarkable freshman campaign.

Riley Alef threw out the lone man that attempted to steal on him in the entire matchup. The New Albany product caught 21 runners stealing this season, more than any other catcher in the Magnolia State, and held an even 50 percent success rate of nailing runners from behind the plate.

It was the third trip in a row to the playoffs for the Tigers and the sixth appearance in eight years under Farris.

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