SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College's comeback attempt in Thursday's MACJC baseball nightcap against visiting Northwest Mississippi fell just short, as the Lions dropped 11-3 and 3-2 decisions to the Rangers at Gerald Poole Field.
Following a pair of scoreless innings in the nightcap, Northwest took the lead in the third inning on Ben Van Cleve's two-out, two-run homer off EMCC starting pitcher Frankie Hefflinger. The visitors went up 3-0 the following frame when Will Brooks walked to lead off the inning before stealing second, advancing to third on a balk and then scoring on Jake McPhail's sacrifice fly to center field.
After missing out on scoring opportunities in the first and third innings, the Lions reached Northwest starter Harrison Sandridge for an unearned run in the fifth. Anthony Hickman reached base on a two-out infield error and was tripled home by William Garriga to cut the deficit to 3-1.
EMCC took advantage of another Northwest miscue an inning later to pull to within a run. Philip Martin singled and then advanced two bases on an errant pickoff attempt before being bunted home by Luke Miller.
The Lions threatened again in the final frame when pinch-hitter Gage Nyman opened the seventh with an infield hit and was bunted over by Destin Payton. The potential rally stopped there, however, as Mississippi State transfer Brant Blaylock got both Hickman and Garriga to fly out to right field and complete the sweep for the visitors.
Out-hitting Northwest, 5-3, in the second game, EMCC was led by Garriga's 2-for-4 effort at the plate.
On the mound for the Lions in the nightcap, sophomore reliever Garrett Ainsworth threw three scoreless innings while not allowing a hit and striking out four after replacing Hefflinger one batter into the fourth inning.
Benefitting from seven EMCC errors in the opening game, the Rangers utilized three of those early miscues along with five first-inning stolen bases to jump out to a 6-0 lead en route to the run-rule victory.
Northwest proceeded to add solo tallies during each of the next four frames to take a 10-2 lead after five innings.
The Lions got on the board in the opener with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning off Northwest starter Reed Logsdon. Following walks to Garriga and Dillon Brown to begin the inning, a bobbled exchange at second base brought home EMCC's initial run. Later in the inning, Matt Inlow produced the second run with a sacrifice fly to left field.
After the Lions plated another run on a wild pitch to make it a 10-3 contest, the Rangers ended the scheduled nine-inning game in the seventh on Justin Milam's two-out, bases-loaded hit off EMCC reliever Wesley Grantham.
In the opener, Hickman went 2-for-4 at the plate to pace EMCC's six-hit team effort.
Coach Chris Rose's EMCC Lions, 7-11 overall and 0-4 in conference play, travel to Wesson to take on the Wolves of Copiah-Lincoln Community College in a 2 p.m. Saturday doubleheader.