Thirteen Northwest Mississippi Community College sophomores were honored in a pre-game ceremony before the Rangers’ last regular season home games April 21 against Itawamba in Senatobia.
Some of those sophomores went out with a bang by leading Northwest to a 6-2 victory in the first contest. Itawamba claimed the nightcap 9-1 to move the Rangers’ overall record to 25-17-1.
Northwest’s split with Itawamba, coupled with the Northeast Tigers’ sweep of Coahoma dropped the Rangers into third place in the MACJC north division standings headed into the final weekend of the regular season.
Northwest, which trails Northeast by one game in the division, needs to at least split with Holmes April 25 and hope that Itawamba sweeps Northeast in Fulton. If that happens, the Rangers and Tigers will be tied for second place and force a one game playoff.
In the opening contest against Itawamba, Northwest used a two-run home run from sophomore outfielder Seth Walker of Covington, Tenn., and a solo homer from sophomore third baseman Alan Mathis of Memphis to build a 5-1 lead after four innings.
Walker, who has been red-hot lately, homered for the seventh time in the Rangers’ last eight games to push his season-total to 13.
Northwest was also fueled by a sacrifice fly by sophomore Rick Russell of Olive Branch that scored sophomore Matt James of Nesbit. James and sophomore Kory Petri of Oxford each collected RBI-doubles.
Ranger sophomore pitcher Jeffrey Vance of Water Valley kept Indian batters off balance and tossed his fourth complete game of the season. Vance, who improved his record to 8-2, allowed just five hits and struck out five.
Itawamba led 2-0 in the nightcap, but Northwest trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the second frame when Ryan Embrey of Coldwater scored on a sacrifice fly by Davis Horton of Oxford.
The Indians struck for seven runs in the third inning to put the game away.
Ranger starting pitcher Matt Shaw of Oxford threw the first two innings and shouldered the loss to fall to 3-3.