Bad night at the ballpark sends Warren Central to loss vs. Northwest Rankin

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

FLOWOOD — Warren Central could have effectively clinched the MHSAA Region 6-6A baseball championship with a victory Tuesday. Instead, an uncharacteristic bad night reset the entire race.

Northwest Rankin scored five runs in the bottom of the first and then padded its lead in every inning after that, as it rolled to a 13-3 run-rule victory over Warren Central.

Warren Central’s pitchers walked eight batters and allowed 13 hits. It was only the third time in 20 games this season that the Vikings have allowed more than 10 hits. The eight walks were a season high.

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“We didn’t help ourself, which is uncommon. We’d been playing really good baseball,” Vikings coach Randy Broome said. “We’ve been pitching well, then we had freebies and errors against a good squad and it seemed like every pitch we threw got hammered. Tip your hat to their offense, but we didn’t help our cause in a game like this, either, and they took advantage of it.”

Things went off the rails right from the jump for the Vikings. They left two runners on base in the top of the first, and then the first six Northwest Rankin batters reached in the bottom half. Dawson Munzenmay hit a two-run double to help the Cougars take a 5-0 lead.

Warren Central got back in it with three runs in the second inning — Charlie Appleton hit an RBI single for his first varsity hit and then scored on a triple by Ismael Trujillo — but the momentum boost was short-lived.

Northwest Rankin pushed the lead back to 8-3 on an RBI single by Trey Davidson in the third inning, and got two more runs in the fourth on Powell Ingram’s two-run double. Ingram scored on a double by Bryson Jones to make it 11-3.

Brady Saxton hit a solo home run in the fifth inning and Langston Cotten hit an RBI single in the sixth to bring in the Cougars’ final run.

Saxton finished 2-for-3 and scored three runs, and Munzenmay had three hits and two RBIs. Appleton was 2-for-3 with on RBI and one run scored for Warren Central.

Twice while the game was slipping away, the Vikings had chances to get out of jams with double play balls and didn’t. One throw to first went wide, and the other chance was bobbled initially. They got one out both times, and Northwest Rankin went on to score runs.

“Not saying it changes the outcome of this, but I think at the time we’re still within fighting distance,” Broome said. “It didn’t go down as an error, because we did get a force, but twice we could have got out of some innings with a double play and didn’t.”

The bigger missed chance was the one to clinch the Region 6-6A championship. Warren Central (13-7, 5-1 Region 6-6A) beat Northwest Rankin (12-4, 5-1) the first time they played each other, on March 10, and could have clinched the season series vs. the Cougars by winning Tuesday.

Now, even though each team has three region games left, their third meeting will effectively be a winner-take-all scenario. Round 3 is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at Viking Field in Vicksburg, but rain in the forecast for the next few days is likely to push it back to next week.

Warren Central and Northwest Rankin have already clinched spots in the Class 6A playoffs. The top three teams in each region advance to the postseason.

“We’re in the hunt, they’re in the hunt. They’re always going to be in the hunt,” Broome said. “Problem is, you’ve got weather coming in and now that throws a wrinkle in things. That gets you off rhythm. It’s part of it. It does the same for them, too.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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