Fresh off celebrating a Gabe Smith three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth that put NMCC up by four, the Eagles watched the Tigers rally for five runs off four hits in the top of the seventh to take the game 8-7.
"The biggest thing is these kids have got to learn when you get somebody down that you finish them off," NMCC coach Jon Jones said. "You don't let them keep picking away or this is what happens."
Up until their seventh inning struggles, the Eagles controlled the game from the first inning on. Kick started by a Denton Daugherty solo home run to left-center as part of a two run first, NMCC pulled into the bottom of the sixth holding a slim 4-3 advantage.
That's when Smith made the Tigers pay for a pair of walks earlier in the innings, hitting his shot over the left-center field fence to give the Eagles a little breathing room.
Unfortunately for NMCC, needing only three outs to seal the win, Carutherville started their assault.
With their first two batters reaching before coming around to score, Caruthersville came back to tie the game when starting pitcher Perry Middleton scored Cardin Leech from third on a line drive to left field.
Soon after, the winning run crossed the plate when a bloop hit to shallow center was dropped by the backpedaling Eagle's shortstop, allowing Perry Middleton to advance safely from third.
"I'm as proud of them as I can be for just hanging in there and not getting down," Tiger's coach Brad Treece said of his team. "When (Smith) hit that three run home run in the sixth inning they could have easily just said, 'well let's just hurry up and go home,' but they didn't.
"They hung in there and played tough."
With one last shot to pull through, the Eagles opened up the bottom of the seventh with two straight walks, leaving the tying run on second.
After walking the first batter he faced, however, Caruthersville reliever Jamie Middleton forced a ground out back to the pitcher's mound before collecting two strikeouts from the bottom of the Eagle's order to seal the win.
"We played good the first couple of innings," NMCC's Collin Ivie said. "We just got confident and let it go."
Picking up the win, Perry Middleton went six full innings before being relieved after walking the first batter in the bottom of the seventh. He allowed seven runs on nine hits while striking out eight. Getting the last three outs without surrendering a hit, Jamie Middleton collected the save.
"I knew Perry had a strong arm," Treece said. "I threw him over a 100 pitches, I don't like doing that, but I did. I was going to pull him that last inning, but he was so emphatic about wanting the ball to close it out.
"I knew I had Jamie ready to come in (just in case)."
At the plate, the Tigers finished with 11 hits and were led by Jamie Middleton and Graham Gardner who finished with three hits each.
For the Eagles, Daugherty takes the loss. Pitching 2/3's of an inning, allowing five runs on three hits while striking out two.
At the plate, Smith led NMCC going 2 for 3 with the the above mentioned home run on a game where the Eagles collected nine hits.
"He works extremely hard hitting," Jones said of Smith. "He's up here in the tunnel all the time (hitting). He works extremely hard at it.
"Sometimes he just gets overzealous up there and he's just swinging the bat, but if he learns to just take his time and just let the bat do the work for him that's the result."
NMCC had a total of three home runs on the game from Smith, Daugherty and Jayshawn McDaniel.
"Our sticks, you can't complain about them," said Jones. "We hit three home runs in the first ball game, but whenever we needed it the most we just didn't deliver.
"It's going to come. It's the first game of the year, the kids our excited and their working hard. It's a long time until districts start."
NMCC will next play at Kelly on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Caruthersville 001 011 5 - 8
NMCC 211 003 0 - 7
WP -- Perry Middleton. LP -- Denton Daugherty. SV -- Jamie Middleton. 2B -- (C) Graham Gardner. 3B -- (N) Kyle Harris. HR -- (N) Daugherty, Gabe Smith, Jayshawn McDaniel.