SENATOBIA – Northwest rallied from a pair of four-run deficits in Game 1 and got a combined two-hitter from Garrett Radicioni and Ethan Sanderlin in Game 2 to earn a season-opening doubleheader sweep over Arkansas Baptist Wednesday afternoon at Ranger Field.
The Rangers improved to 2-0 on the early season, winning their seventh straight over the Buffalos and ninth game in 10 tries, while Arkansas Baptist dropped to 0-2.
First game jitters got the best of both squads in the opener, with the teams combining for 14 walks and nine hit-by-pitches.
Northwest took an early 3-0 lead in the second inning behind Chad Wardlaw’s two-RBI single to second, scoring Denzel Goolsby and Jimmy Braswell after both were hit-by-pitches. Wardlaw would come around to score on a throwing error on the catcher.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Arkansas Baptist sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the third and scored seven times to take a 7-3 lead. The inning was highlighted by Kentrell Hill’s grand slam on the first pitch he saw from Justin Rose after relieving Tarus Hervey after 2 2/3 innings of work.
The teams would exchange runs the next two at-bats, giving the Buffs an 8-4 lead after four.
Northwest then found the game-tying runs in the fifth, putting the first three batters on base safely and chasing Felix Pena-Vasquez. Bradley Noland’s RBI-single plated the first run, followed by Drew Klepzig’s bases-clearing, two-out RBI-single and wild throw by the Buffs third baseman that allowed both Luke McCullough and Goolsby to come around and score.
Northwest would add a three spot in the sixth to put the game away, taking advantage of two Buffs errors and a catcher’s interference. ABC looked to get an inning-ending double play to send the game into the seventh tied, however, the umpire ruled interference and allowed the Rangers to plate the go-ahead runs.
Jake Brigman and Braswell didn’t give up a hit the final three innings to keep the Buffs offense off the board, with Brigman earning the win and Braswell getting his first save of the year.
Radicioni and Sanderlin combined for a two-hitter in the nightcap, as Northwest took the twinbill sweep.
The Rangers put up three runs in the first off starter Heston Besancon, getting a two-run shot to right from Josh Hopkins and RBI-groundout from Brigman.
ABC scored a single run in the third off a throwing error, cutting the lead to 3-1, but Northwest came right back with two runs in the bottom half to stretch the lead back out to 5-1.
Joseph Blair’s leadoff solo homer to start the sixth put the icing on the cake, with Jeremy Carlisle adding an RBI-double later in the inning for the Rangers’ final run. ABC added a single run in the seventh to make the final 8-2.
Noland and McCullough each had a pair of hits in the doubleheader, while 12 other Rangers had at least one hit. Northwest was also a perfect 8 for 8 on stolen bases.
Northwest will hit the road for its next four doubleheader contests, beginning with a pair of games at Southwest Tennessee on Saturday at First Tennessee Fields in Cordova.
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