By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Northeast Tigers were on the verge of letting Game 1 of a Saturday doubleheader slip away against the Northwest Rangers.
Then the Tigers’ bats woke up.
Northeast scored six runs in their final two at bats, edging the Rangers 6-5 in the first game of a key North Division series. The completed the sweep with a 7-1 victory.
“We just want to get in the playoffs right now,” Northeast head coach Kent Farris said. “Right now, we’ve put ourselves in good shape.
“Hopefully, our kids understand they have to come out and play good next week, too.”
The Tigers and the Rangers entered the day tied at 11-5 in the North, and it was eventually Northeast (22-13, 13-5) that gained the edge in the matchup.
But first, the Rangers (20-13, 11-7) grabbed the lead 4-0 through four innings of play. Dylan Castoria and Jay King from Bruce had solo home runs in the third, and Castoria had a two-run hit in the fourth for Northwest.
Then Northeast finally dented the amour of Northwest ace Cody Reed in the fifth.
There, the Tigers opened the frame with three singles, eventually scoring a run on a Chris Aichinger grounder and a Dalton Sims single. Northeast backed that up in the sixth inning with an RBI hit by Will Robertson from Falkner and a home run by Justin Neal.
That made a winner of Kyle Stephenson from Booneville, who kept the Rangers just off-balance enough through his six innings of work. Jonathan Morrison from Ripley worked the seventh frame, giving up a run, but earning the save.
“We just didn’t put together a complete game,” Northwest head coach Mark Carson said.
“Doubleheader baseball is hard to play.”
Northeast 7, Northwest 1: In Game 2, Neal belted two more home runs, with Robertson adding one over the fence as well.
Tanner Gaines from Baldwyn pitched the complete game, scattering six hits.