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Rangers Close Regular Season on High Note, Sweep Holmes
April 29, 2012By Kevin Maloney of NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGE
GOODMAN – After getting swept in a four-game season series a year ago, Northwest returned the favor on Saturday afternoon at Charlie Donald Field, defeating Holmes 10-6 and 8-7 to take the doubleheader and the season series over the Bulldogs. Game 1 Box / Game 2 Box
Northwest closed out the regular season in style, capping a 6-0 week in the MACJC in which they hit .429 from the plate, stole 21-of-22 bases and also boasted a 2.76 team ERA.
Northwest improved to 25-21 overall and 16-8 in the north while Holmes fell to 21-22 and 10-14.
Both teams wasted little time getting things going offensively in game one, with Northwest using an RBI-double from Austin Overall and two-run home run by Jimmy Braswell for a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
Holmes immediately responded with a three-run inning themselves, playing to its homefield advantage of high, thick grass and laying down three bunt singles. Tyji Hawkins' bases-loaded walk plated the first run, while Darius Knight followed with a sac fly and Blake Bowman scored the final run on another infield bunt.
The Bulldogs took their first and only lead of the doubleheader in the third inning, 4-3, getting a leadoff triple from Hawkins and scoring him two batters later on a bunt single by Bowman.
After a scoreless fourth, the rest was all Northwest. The Rangers responded with seven unanswered runs over the fifth and sixth to take a 10-4 cushion, plating five runs off seven hits in the sixth.
Holmes scored two in the bottom of the sixth off a failed pickoff attempt to make the final 10-6.
Northwest out-hit Holmes 16-7 in the game, paced by multiple hits from five different Rangers. Overall went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs, while Bradley Noland was 3-for-5 with three singles. Noland's one-out single up the middle in the first marked his 100th career hit, the 17th Ranger in school history to accomplish the feat.
Jeremy Massie (4-1) went five innings for the win, scattering seven hits, four runs (two earned) and four strikeouts. Steven Blanchard (7-4) took the loss after allowing eight runs off 12 hits.
Northwest jumped out to another big lead in the first inning of game two, plating four runs off five hits. Kyle Blount's leadoff double to right got it all started, with Overall, Chris Casto and Keaton Hankins all following with RBI-hits.
Holmes clawed back with a single run in the second and two in the third, using a delayed double steal and a pair of sacrifice hits from Hawkins and Knight that made it 4-3.
Casto's two-run bomb to right and Drew Pratt's RBI-single pushed the Ranger lead back out to 7-3 in the fifth before the Bulldogs again responded to make it a one-run game in the final two innings.
Holmes scored two in the sixth thanks to three walks, a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch, making it 8-6, before Phillip Malatesta retired the side on strikeouts.
Nolan Ryan then came on to try and close it out for Northwest in the seventh. Holmes opened the inning with a single, then followed with Blanchard's RBI-triple, quickly cutting the gap to 8-7.
Ryan would then regain his composure, striking out Bowman, using a huge fielder's choice at the plate thanks to great defensive work from Noland, and getting a fly out to close out his first collegiate save. Cody Reed (8-2) got the win, working five innings, scattering four runs and four strikeouts.
Blount led five Rangers with multiple hits in game two as Northwest out-hit Holmes 14-7, followed by two from Dex Herrington, Pratt, Casto and Hankins.
Northwest stole 10 total bases in the game, 12 for the day, with Josh Johnson breaking the school's career record (51) in the fourth inning after stealing second.
Northwest will await its opponent in the best-of-3 series May 4-5 to open the state playoffs, and will get either 17th-ranked Hinds or Gulf Coast. Friday's game is set for 6:30 p.m. while Saturday's is set for 2 p.m. A third game, if necessary, will follow.