SENATOBIA — The Lions of East Mississippi Community College moved to 4-0 on the young baseball season by sweeping preseason fourth-ranked Northwest Mississippi, 9-6 and 17-12, on the road during Wednesday's doubleheader played at Jim Miles Field.
The teams traded two-run first innings in the opening contest. After the Lions got on the board with a run-scoring triple by Austin Beech and Rye McGlothin's RBI single in the top of the first, Northwest countered with Peyton Mills' two-run homer in the home half off EMCC starting pitcher Gabe Garner.
Three innings later, Beech's two-out, two-run single capped a three-run fourth inning for the visitors. The Rangers trimmed EMCC's lead to 5-3 in the bottom half on Mills' leadoff homer.
Northwest took its only lead (6-5) of the nine-inning opener by scoring three runs in the sixth off reliever Kylan Stepter. Mills' RBI double was followed by Wesley Lester's sacrifice fly and a two-out, go-ahead single by Hammer Franks.
The Lions answered by reclaiming the lead with a pair of runs in the seventh on Zack Griffith's sacrifice fly and a two-out RBI single from Blayze Berry. Griffith then provided an additional pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a two-out, two-run homer off Northwest reliever Alan Kivett.
Berry, the reigning MACCC Pitcher of the Week, retired the last six Northwest batters of the game to record his first collegiate save and preserve the win for EMCC reliever Jonah Caskey, who worked a scoreless seventh inning after the Lions took back the lead in the top half of the frame.
Offensively in the opener, EMCC's 12-hit team effort was paced by two hits apiece from Beech, Blayze Berry and Al Dumas.
In the high-scoring nightcap, the Lions took advantage of six Northwest errors and a dozen combined walks from six different pitchers to complete the road sweep.
During each of the first two frames, EMCC's three-run top halves of the inning were matched by Northwest's four-run bottom halves. After the Lions pushed across three runs to begin the second game, the Rangers answered with a four-run first frame capped by Dylan Hale's three-run home run off EMCC starting pitcher Jonah Posey.
After EMCC scored three unearned runs in the second inning to take a brief 6-4 lead, Northwest recorded a second straight four-run frame highlighted by Mills' three-run blast – his third home run of the doubleheader – to go back on top, 8-6, after only two innings.
Following two scoreless frames, the Lions broke open the seven-inning nightcap by batting around in the fifth and sixth innings to produce six and five runs, respectively. EMCC's six-run fifth frame was capped by Griffith's three-run blast – his second home run of the twin bill – while a five-run sixth was aided by four walks from Northwest's depleted bullpen.
The Rangers did manage to cut into their 17-8 deficit with a solo run in the sixth and three tallies in the seventh, but the nine-run difference was ultimately too much to overcome.
With two hits apiece by Beech and Griffith, the Lions totaled 10 hits as a team in the nightcap.
Freshman left-hander Jackson Siler picked up the win for EMCC by working the final three innings in relief of Posey and Dakota Boney. Siler struck out five with no walks while scattering four hits from the fifth inning on.
Coach Brett Kimbrel's 4-0 EMCC Lions are scheduled to open their home baseball slate with a Saturday afternoon doubleheader against Itawamba. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at EMCC's Gerald Poole Field on the Scooba campus.
By: David Rosinski | Sports Information Director
East Mississippi Community College