Photo: McKaylee Polk went 6-for-7 with two home runs on the day, as eighth-ranked Northwest defeated Motlow State and Spoon River on Friday. (Courtesy nwccrangers.com)
By Brian Lentz, NWCC Sports Information Director
A six-run comeback and a three-home run performance were the biggest storylines in Friday’s Northeast TigerFest.
Northwest rallied back for an 8-6 triumph against Motlow State in the early game, before earning a 6-3 victory against Spoon River College. The Rangers improved to 6-0 on the season with both wins.
McKaylee Polk led the Northwest bats by going 4-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBIs in the win against Motlow State, and she followed up that effort with a 2-for-3 effort, a double and a home run in the win against Spoon River.
In the circle, Gabby Dickerson and Allyson Harrison finished with eight strikeouts apiece, as both pitchers improved their respective records to 3-0 on the season.
Northwest will return to action next Friday in the Vicksburg-based JUCO Classic, facing off against Coastal Alabama-North and Parkland College. Those games are expected for 2:30 and 5 P.M. start times.
Game 1 – Northwest 8, Motlow State 6
McKaylee Polk was the hero for Northwest in the Rangers’ comeback victory against Motlow State.
Down 6-5 entering the bottom of the sixth, Maggie Ross scored the game-tying run with two outs. In the next at-bat, Polk took a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left-center, pushing the Rangers ahead by the 8-6 final.
Northwest got in trouble in the top half of the first inning, surrendering four runs to the Bucks. Motlow State would add two more in the top of the third, thanks to an error and a solo home run, stretching its lead to 6-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, the Ranger bats began to come alive. Back-to-back base hits from Polk and Reese Vanlandingham helped Madeline Houk round the bases for the first Northwest run, and Vanlandingham would cross the plate shortly after, slicing the deficit to 6-2.
Although both pitching staffs kept the score frozen over the next inning and a half, the Rangers pulled within a run in the home half of the fifth inning. Facing two outs, Kaylee Owens sent a deep two-run double to left field, scoring Polk and Neely Cooper. Allyson Harrison followed with an RBI-single of her own, bringing Northwest back within a run.
Motlow State threatened a response in the top of the sixth, as the Bucks got a pair of base hits off Dickerson. However, a double play and a strikeout ended the momentum and sent Northwest up to bat.
Facing two outs once again, an error helped Ross tie the game up and Polk’s aforementioned two-run blast gave the Rangers the lead. Though the Bucks would pick up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, a double play and a groundout ended Motlow’s chances of salvaging the win.
In addition to Polk’s efforts, Owens also finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Dickerson picked up the win after dishing out eight strikeouts through 6.2 innings.
Game 2 – Northwest 6, Spoon River College 3
Sparked by three hits from Owens, Northwest outhit Spoon River 11-3 en route to the three-run win against Spoon River College.
This time, the Rangers were the ones scoring first, as Kara Johnson smacked a solo home run to left field in the first inning. The lead became a 2-0 advantage in the top of the second, as Owens delivered a homer of her own .
Two quick miscues in the bottom of the second allowed Spoon River to tie the game at 2-2. However, the newfound momentum lasted briefly, as Polk delivered a solo home run on the first pitch of the third inning, sending the Rangers back ahead at 3-2.
Northwest further stretched its lead in the top half of the fourth inning, as Johnson’s two-out double scored Nickens and Ross for a 5-2 Ranger lead.
Spoon River got a run back in the bottom of the sixth with two outs, but Owens once again spoiled the fun in the top of the seventh, sending a double down the left field line. The play scored Polk from second, making it a 6-3 contest.
Harrison closed out the game in style, striking out all three Snappers in the order, helping the Rangers hang on for the win. The Mantee native and Itawamba transfer tossed eight strikeouts with just one walk and an earned run.