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Late-Inning Heroics Not Enough, Rangers Eliminated by Hinds

May 5, 2012
By Kevin Maloney of NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGE



SENATOBIA – Chris Casto's pinch-hit, three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth sent the game into extra innings for Northwest, but it was visiting and 17th-ranked Hinds who scored four runs in the top of the 10th to knock off the Rangers 11-7 and win Game 2 of a best-of-3 series, 2-0. | Box Score

Hinds improved to 31-16 and will move on to the state tournament round May 10-12 in Fulton, while Northwest's up-and-down season came to a close at 25-23. | Game Replay

Just as they did in the opening game of the series, Northwest jumped all over the Eagles in the first inning.

Bradley Noland, Austin Overall and Dex Herrington connected on back-to-back-to-back solo home runs to right field off starting pitcher Carey Taylor and the Rangers were quickly ahead, 3-0. 

But Taylor and the Eagles settled in the ensuing innings and regained the upper hand, using Tyler Akins' two-run single in the third as part of six unanswered runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings. Chris Jones added his second home run in as many games, while Pierson Waring chipped in a two-out, two-run double as Hinds enjoyed a 6-3 lead after five.

After retiring 10 consecutive batters at one point and hanging five consecutive zeros on the scoreboard, Taylor gave up a leadoff single to Walt McCullough in the bottom of the seventh which marked the Rangers' first hit since the first inning.

Northwest added back-to-back singles from Justin Rose and Josh Johnson to load the bases, and pulled within 6-4 after McCullough came around to score on a throwing error. With the Rangers threatening to add more, Luke McCullough's fly out to right turned into an unexpected double play as Johnson was caught way off the bag at second. The inning would then end on a groundout.

Hinds responded with a single run in the eighth to stretch the lead back to 7-4, again taking advantage of a mental mistake by the Rangers. On a called ball four, Justin Rose sailed a ball into centerfield allowing the runner at first to advance to third, and the Eagles scored a batter later on a double play ball. The ensuing batter, Caleb Baucum, flew out to end the inning, a run that would come back to haunt the Rangers.

With their backs against the wall and Northwest down to its final three outs, the Rangers rallied in the bottom of the ninth. Rose reached on a walk and Johnson drew a hit-by-pitch, allowing Casto to smash a no-doubter to rightfield to knot the game at 7-7 and force extras. | Listen to Replay

But Hinds would put the game out of reach in the 10th, chasing reliever Colt Burns and scoring three runs off Jim Tom Copeland. Jones again delivered the knockout punch with two outs, doubling to right-center to score a pair of runs.

The Rangers were then retired in order (5-6-7) in their half, as Jake Chambliss picked up his first career win going the final 1 2/3 innings and allowing no runs and no hits. Burns (6-3) was hit with the loss, allowing two runs over 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Hinds out-hit Northwest 16-9 in the game, using four hits from Beau Wallace (4-for-6) and three apiece from Justin Smith and Jones who also had a game-high four RBIs.

Northwest was paced by Noland's two hits and Casto's three RBIs while eight different Rangers had a hit. Dex Herrington, who went 1-for-5 in the game, became the 18th Ranger in school history with 100 career hits, launching a home run to left in the first inning.

The 11th-best team in the nation from the plate (.339), Hinds scored 25 runs off 31 hits in the series.


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