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Rangers’ Carson reaches 500 career wins in sweep of Coahoma

Photo: Northwest President Dr. Michael J. Heindl presents head coach Mark Carson with a commemorative plaque following the Rangers’ Game 1 win against Coahoma. Carson is only the second Northwest baseball coach to reach the 500-win milestone, joining Jim Miles (556). (Brian Lentz/nwccrangers.com)

Northwest baseball coach Mark Carson can now add 500 wins to his already-impressive résumé, as the Rangers swept Coahoma 20-4 and 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon.

It marked yet another notable achievement for Carson, a former Northwest baseball student-athlete that joined Donny Castle’s staff as an assistant coach in 1998. Carson, a graduate of Independence High School and a former Southern Miss baseball standout, took over the head coaching reins in 2006 and is currently the second-winningest coach in program history, trailing only Jim Miles’ 556 career wins.

Carson’s 500th win was also notable in the fact that it marked the Rangers’ first 20-run game since March 4, 2020, when Northwest recorded a whopping 24-1 at Columbia State. With the Game 2 win as well, Northwest improved to 22-12 overall and 10-4 in the MACCC, marking the third consecutive sweep and the sixth straight win.

With Wednesday’s twinbill against Jackson State (Tenn.) postponed, Northwest will now set its sights on a showdown with No. 8 Jones College. The Bobcats (27-7, 12-2 MACCC) are coming off a split at Southwest Mississippi, dropping Game 2 against the Bears by a 3-2 final in extra innings.

Northwest and Jones College are set to tangle on Friday, April 7 at 2/5 P.M. Both games will be carried on Ranger TV, with live stats available to follow here.

Game 1 – Northwest 20, Coahoma 4 (7 inn.)

Though Northwest initially trailed 2-0 after the first inning, the Coahoma lead was quickly wiped away with four runs in the second and a seven-run frame in the third inning, as the Rangers blasted the Tigers in Game 1.

Coahoma got its two early runs on a sac fly to left field and a Christo Peeks single to right field, but the Rangers responded in the bottom of the second with an RBI-triple from James Smith and a sac fly from Peyton Martin, tying the game at 2-2.

Northwest took the lead in the same inning, thanks to Dawson Griffin’s RBI-single to center and a triple to left center from Jacob Hill. Coahoma responded with a run off a bases loaded walk in the top of the third inning, only for the Rangers to tack on seven runs in the home half of the inning.

Martin got the scoring started with a bases loaded RBI-single to left field and Matthew Roncalli drew a bases-loaded walk in the next at-bat, moving the score to 6-3. Griffin followed with a two-run single to left field and Cade Greer’s fielder’s choice to the shortstop resulted in two runs scoring, thanks to an infield error, pushing the Rangers’ advantage to 10-3.

A passed ball closed out the inning for Northwest, as Cade Greer scored from third to make it an 11-3 lead. The Rangers added three more in the bottom of the fourth, as an outfield error on Hayden Davis’ at-bat sent Smith to the plate from third, followed by an RBI-single from Roncalli and a sac fly from Hill.

Leading 14-3, Northwest kept the hits coming in the bottom of the fifth, as Thomas Cheatham scored Leatherwood on a double to left center, followed by a two-run triple from Martin. Davis then blasted a two-run home run and Leatherwood delivered a single to right field, giving the Rangers their 20th run.

Kaden Wilson helped tack on a late run for Coahoma with an RBI-single in the top of the sixth, but Scott Sharp, Owen Bruce and Tripp Hardin combined to polish off the final two innings on the mound, sealing the monumental win for Carson.

Blake Loper (2-1) was credited with the win in relief, delivering two strikeouts with no runs allowed in 2.1 innings of work. Mason Shropshire started the contest and lasted 2.2 frames, with three strikeouts against four walks and three earned runs given up.

Northwest finished with a season-best 19 hits, led by Martin’s 4-for-4 effort, which included a double, a triple and four RBIs. Leatherwood also went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Davis, Griffin and Hill accounted for two base hits apiece.

The Tigers finished with eight base hits in the loss, led by two each from Peeks, Wilson and Cade Gadman. Garrett Smith also finished with a triple during a 1-for-3 outing. On the mound, Aiden Singley was handed the loss after allowing eight earned runs on eight hits, with two walks and two strikeouts.

Game 2 – Northwest 3, Coahoma 2

Much like the first game, Coahoma struck first with an early run, only for Northwest to add three unanswered in a 3-2 victory.

After issuing a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch that resulted in the Tigers’ first run, freshman arm Connor McCaslin settled in for the next few innings, keeping Coahoma off the board until the top of the fifth. The only other run allowed came off a wild pitch, which allowed Garrick Smith to score from third, cutting the Rangers’ lead to 3-2.

Northwest got its runs in the second and third innings, starting with a solo homer from James Smith in the bottom of the second. A passed ball helped Cy Craig score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the third, which was followed by a groundout from Eli Selby that helped Martin score from third.

Pitching was the main story for both teams in the nightcap, with Coahoma’s Ethan Kreyer going the distance, but only allowing one earned run in the loss. McCaslin picked up the win, lasting five full innings with five strikeouts and two earned runs allowed. Zach Beasley tossed one full inning of relief, garnering a strikeout, while Brayden Sanders collected his 10th save by finishing off the final inning.

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