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Rangers Open Season with Sweep of SW Tennessee 8-7 & 4-3
February 17, 2013By Kevin Maloney of NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGE
SENATOBIA – Northwest opened the 2013 baseball season with a pair of hard-fought wins over Southwest Tennessee 8-7 (10 inn.) and 4-3 on a chilly and windy Saturday afternoon at Ranger Field.
Northwest is off to a 2-0 start while Southwest Tennessee fell to 4-9 on the young season.
After dodging a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning in game one, the Rangers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when James Lear doubled and scored a batter later on an infield error and Jordan Barnes delivered his first RBI-single of his career that scored Kramer Hollenbach.
The Saluqis immediately responded in the second by plating three runs and taking their first lead of the game. Josh Ingram singled and later stole home for the first run while Gadier Charriez and Ty Michelotti added RBI hits.
Southwest added a single run in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead that held into the seventh inning.
Northwest tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom half of the seventh, capitalizing on a pair of walks and using an RBI-single from Dylan Castoria and RBI fielder's choice from Jay King.
Southwest retook the lead in its half of the ninth, jumpstarted by a leadoff double from Ingram. Justin Kemp then singled to put runners at the corners with no outs before a failed pickoff attempt at first and wild pitch eventually allowed both runners to score for a 6-4 lead.
Back-to-back walks to Brennan Pugh and Lear in the bottom of the ninth put the tying runs on base for Northwest and gave the Rangers signs of hope. After Castoria's single loaded the bases, King delivered a sac fly and Lear came around to score on a wild pitch to force extra innings.
In the 10th, Southwest got a sac fly from David West that put them back on top at 7-6.
With their backs against the wall again, Garrett Blaylock led off the Rangers' half of the 10th with a single and was sacrificed over by J.D. Tackett to put him in scoring position. After Southwest intentionally loaded the bases to setup a force out, Castoria delivered the game-tying sac fly to right. The throw from right then sailed past the catcher that allowed Pugh to plate the winning run.
Northwest was out-hit 13-9 in the win but capitalized off four Saluqi errors.
Jim Tom Copeland earned his first collegiate win on the mound, tossing the 10th inning.
The second game of the doubleheader was just as exciting and also ended with a one-run victory.
Tied at 2-2 into the fifth, Northwest pulled back in front when Taylor King was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on an error by the left fielder.
Southwest tied the game back up at 3-3 in the sixth when Kemp singled home pinch runner Dalton McSwain who advanced to second and third on back-to-back passed balls.
Northwest found the game-winner in its half of the sixth when Jay King delivered a one-out, RBI-single with the infield in that scored Lear after his third double of the day.
Tyler Scholl relieved Matt Ferguson, the game two winner, and threw up a zero in the seventh to close out his first collegiate save. With the bases loaded and one out, Scholl got a strike out and a fly out to end the game.
Cody Waddell, in his first start, went 5 innings and gave up three hits, two earned runs and six walks while striking out seven in a no-decision.
Southwest used seven different pitchers in game two, with Jerry Tatum taking the loss.
Castoria finished a big day at the plate 6-for-8 with a double and two RBIs while Lear went 4-for-6 with three doubles, four walks and five runs scored.
Northwest and Southwest Tennessee will meet again next Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Millington at USA Stadium. First pitch of the twinbill is set for 3 p.m.