SCOOBA – Late-inning woes resulted in East Mississippi Community College dropping a home baseball doubleheader to 19th-ranked Northwest Mississippi, 8-2 and 11-3, during Wednesday's MACJC action played at Gerald Poole Field.
With EMCC trailing 3-2 in the opener and then leading by the same score in the nightcap late in the games, the Rangers scored 14 of their 19 total runs over the last two innings of the contests to pull away with the victories.
In the nine-inning opening game, Northwest took a 3-0 lead by plating two runs in the third inning and adding a solo tally a frame later off EMCC starting pitcher Reid Blakely. The Lions answered in the fifth by getting two runs back on Zarin Cole's two-run blast – his second homer of the year - to straightaway center field off Northwest starter Carson Stinnett.
After Blakely capped his quality seven-inning pitching stint by retiring the side in order during each of his last three innings of work, the Rangers reached reliever Tyler Miller for a pair of runs in the eighth inning. The visitors then essentially sealed the victory by scoring three unearned runs during a ninth-inning rally that began with a two-out hit batsman followed by an infield error. Consecutive RBI singles by Hayden Leatherwood and Tanner Booth, along with a bases-loaded walk to Hammer Franks, produced the trio of insurance runs for Northwest.
Freshman outfielder Austin Beech had two of EMCC's seven hits in the opener.
The Lions then bounced back to stake starting pitcher Wesley Grantham to a 3-1 lead during the nightcap. Following Leatherwood's leadoff homer in the second inning, EMCC responded with two runs in the third on Miller's RBI triple and Beech's run-producing infield groundout. A frame later, Cole singled home Chase Jones, who led off the fourth inning with a fly ball triple to right-center field that was lost in the twilight sky.
After Franks cut the Northwest deficit to 3-2 with a leadoff homer off Grantham in the fifth, the Rangers benefited from a costly EMCC error a frame later to generate three unearned runs. EMCC sophomore right-hander Jaxen Forrester inherited a pair of runners in the sixth and proceeded to strike out the side. However, a dropped third strike prolonged the inning and the subsequent errant throw to third base allowed the tying run to score. Two batters later with the bases loaded, Peyton Mills' two-out, two-run single gave the visitors a 5-3 lead.
While Northwest right-hander Colton Peel was limiting EMCC to just one hit with seven strikeouts over the last three innings to pick up the win in relief, the Rangers were able to lock down the nightcap victory and secure the sweep by batting around and scoring six times in the seventh inning. In the final frame that started with Garrett Riggs' leadoff double and a bunt single by Tanner Leggett, it was Ben Van Cleve's two-out, two-run single and an outfield miscue allowing two more runs to score that extended the margin.
Miller's pair of triples led the way for the Lions, who were limited in the nightcap to four total hits by Peel and starting pitcher Jake Tyrone.
Coach Brett Kimbrel's 3-16 EMCC Lions will continue looking to break into the conference win column by traveling to Decatur to take on the Warriors of East Central Community College in a 3 p.m. Friday doubleheader at ECCC's Clark-Gay Complex that has been moved up a day due to possible rain across the state on Saturday.