Photo: Brooks Rice delivered a whopping 15 strikeouts in a 7-0 win for Northwest, becoming the first Ranger pitcher since Cody Reed in 2013 to deliver 15 strikeouts in a game. Credit: Jamie Eldridge
Northwest splits with win against Lions, loss to Co-Lin
Credit: Northwest Sports Information
Sophomore pitcher Brooks Rice had a performance for the ages in Northwest’s win against East Mississippi on Tuesday, March 7.
The Madison native went a full seven innings, recording 15 strikeouts against three walks, two base hits and no runs allowed, as the Rangers blanked the Lions, 7-0. He became the first Northwest pitcher to strike out 15 batters in a game since April 6, 2013, when Cody Reed did the same in a home victory against Coahoma.
However, the day ended on a sour note, as the Rangers surrendered a 5-0 lead in a 7-5 loss to Copiah-Lincoln. The loss dropped Northwest to 12-7 on the season ahead of Saturday’s upcoming MACCC opener at Southwest Mississippi.
Game times in Summit are scheduled for 12/2 p.m. with both games airing on Bear TV.
Game 1 – Northwest 7, East Mississippi 0
Northwest scored in every inning except the fifth, aiding a career-defining performance from Brooks Rice, as the Rangers shutout East Mississippi.
Rice set the tone right away with a 1-2-3 frame in the top half of the first inning and Jacob Hill smacked a leadoff double to start the bottom of the first. Cade Leatherwood would later score Hill from third on a single to right field, giving the Rangers the quick 1-0 advantage.
After Rice struck out the side in the top of the second, Northwest responded with another run in the home half, as Thomas Cheatham’s sac fly made it a 2-0 lead. The Rangers would then add two more in the bottom of the third, thanks to an RBI-groundout from Eli Selby and an RBI-double to center field from Hayes Davis.
Rice retired the Lions in order over the next two innings, allowing the Rangers to pad their lead. Cade Greer scored Peyton Martin with one out in the fourth on a sac fly to right, stretching the Northwest lead to 5-0.
Things got a little dicey for Rice in the top of the sixth, as the Lions used back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. However, the former LSU signee left the inning unscathed, striking out Evan Radford and forcing Zack Griffith into an infield pop fly, keeping East Mississippi off the board.
In response, Northwest essentially put the game out of reach with two more runs in the home half of the sixth. After two quick outs, Turner Leathers issued a pair of walks to Cheatham and Dawson Griffin, and Greer would score both on his double to left center, pushing the Rangers’ lead to 7-0.
Northwest gave Rice a chance to close out the game in the top of the seventh and he did just that, issuing two swinging strikeouts to close out the historic performance.
Northwest scattered seven base hits throughout the lineup, with Davis, Greer and Hill earning doubles. Additionally, Greer collected three RBIs and finished as the only Rangers with multiple runs batted in.
Rice improved to 2-0 on the mound and limited East Mississippi to just two base hits, one from Coby Holmes and another Jon Paul Yates. Austin Garrison was handed the loss for the Lions, striking out three batters against two walks and four earned runs in four complete frames.
Game 2 – Copiah-Lincoln 7, Northwest 5
A nightmare unfolded for Northwest in the top of the sixth, as errors plagued the Rangers and allowed Copiah-Lincoln to score four runs on one base hit, as the Wolves scored seven unanswered runs to wrap up the win in the nightcap.
Copiah-Lincoln began chipping away at the Rangers’ 5-0 lead since the top of the fourth and the sixth inning allowed the Wolves to gain a 6-5 advantage. Co-Lin added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on a botched fielder’s choice and the Wolves managed to strand the Rangers with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Prior to the Wolves’ comeback, Northwest started off the game hot. Scoreless entering the bottom of the second, the Rangers struck first off Greer’s RBI-single to right field, followed by another run on a fielder’s choice.
A three-run frame in the bottom of the third wa punctuated by Brandon Bruckman’s first career home run, a two-run bomb to left field. Cy Craig also delivered an RBI-double to right field, bringing the lead to 5-0.
A rundown between first and second base allowed the Wolves to sneak a runner from third across the plate in the top of the fourth and an RBI-groundout from Harrison Mohead helped Co-Lin cut the deficit to 5-2 in the fifth. An RBI-single through the left side from Riley Easterling helped the Wolves pull within 5-3 in the top of sixth, later scoring after a failed pickoff attempt and another fielding error at shortstop.
With the score suddenly tied, the Wolves made things worse by taking the lead on a wild pitch, as Brentley Berry scored from third to close out the sixth inning scoring surge. Wyatt Hodges responded by sending the Rangers down in order in the bottom of the sixth, keeping Co-Lin’s 6-5 lead in tact.
Down to its last three outs and trailing 7-5, Northwest made some noise in the bottom of the seventh. An error in center field, a walk to Cheatham and single from Craig loaded the bases with no outs for the Rangers, placing the winning run at first base.
However, the Rangers’ rally would go quietly into the night, as Hodges issued two strikeouts and forced Davis into a pop-up to second, as the Wolves left Senatobia with the win.
Northwest outmatched Co-Lin 8-4 in base hits, led by two each from Cheatham and Craig. On the other side, Easterling accounted for two of the Wolves’ four base hits.
James Smith (0-1) was issued the loss after allowing three runs and two walks in a brief relief outing in the sixth. Connor McCaslin started the game and finished with three strikeouts against five walks in 3.1 total innings, while Blake Loper and Mason Shropshire delivered one strikeout apiece in a combined 1.2 innings of relief.
Brayden Sanders tossed the final two innings for the Rangers and struck out three batters, despite allowing two unearned runs and a pair of walks.
Hodges earned the win for Copiah-Lincoln, striking out five batters against two walks in three innings, allowing no runs. Connor Pittman started the contest, issuing five strikeouts against six walks and five earned runs in the first four innings.