FULTON – The Itawamba Community College baseball program saw its season come to a close, Friday, as Pearl River Community College won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 Best-of-Three Series, two games to one.
After dropping game one of the playoff series 15-2 on Thursday, the Indians (31-16) bounced back Friday winning game two 7-1 behind a complete game two-hitter by JT Salter (Bay Minette, Alabama).
In the game two Indian victory, Salter struck out 10 and Kyle Weaver (Courtland) and Bryan Malone (Belmont) drove in two runs each.
In the decisive game three Friday afternoon, the Indians were unable to find their offense while the Wildcats (25-21) pushed across 13 runs on 10 hits to pick up the 13-0 series clinching victory.
The Indians climbed as high as No. 7 in the NJCAA Rankings during the 2017 season and finishes the season with Tyreque Reed (Houlka) leading the NJCAA with a .504 batting average and .638 on base percentage and Salter ranking 13th in the nation with 84 strikeouts.
Fulton native and former Itawamba AHS standout Russ Payne collected a pair of doubles in the game two win against Pearl River. Payne finished his ICC career with a .338 batting average, two home runs, 28 RBI, 30 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in his sophomore season.
Payne also recorded 45 hits in 44 games this season, including nine extra-base hits, and also had 12 walks while putting up a .412 on-base percentage.
Klay Houston, also of Fulton and IAHS, finished his freshman campaign with a 3-1 overall pitching record, and was a perfect 3-0 in conference play.
Houston recorded 15 strikeouts in 26 innings of work, while walking just four batters, and posted a 3.22 ERA in conference play.
Houston allowed 35 hits, but only five went for extra bases.
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