For the last four years Northwest Rankin has been jinxed in the third round of the MHSAA baseball playoffs.
The Cougar pitching staff tossed a two-hitter as Northwest Rankin held off Clinton 5-1 to sweep the series from the Arrows at Arrow Field on Thursday night.
Northwest Rankin (28-2) will face the winner of the DeSoto Central-Warren Central series in the Class 6A North State championship series beginning on Tuesday. DeSoto Central eliminated the Cougars in the third round last year.
“I don’t want to call it a jinx. My goal is to be the last team in the Jackson metro area playing and get to this time of year,” said Northwest Rankin coach Jeff McClaskey. “I thought our pitching kept them off-balance, and we put pressure on them thoughout the game.”
The Cougars stole six bases.
“We just wanted to take our chances and against a left-hander we did and were successful with that,” McClaskey said. “We played good defense and made plays at the end. If we can keep swinging the bats like we have, I think we have a chance against anybody.”
Cannon Gibbs, a Jones Junior College football signee, got the win on the mound for the Cougars. Gibbs (6-0) worked two innings, gave up a hit and walked one. Freshman JT Carney tossed three innings in relief and gave up a hit, a run and had four strikeouts. Dylan Henderson pitched the final two innings to pick up the save.
“Our number two pitcher is hurt, and Cannon just wanted the ball and he usually throws strikes and just didn’t get into rhythm,” McClaskey said. “We brought in JT in the last series with Olive Branch and he did a great job so we brought him again, and I knew if he could hold the lead and we could get to Dylan that we would be fine.”
Acy Owen, Shelton Wallace and Ian Ladner had two hits each to lead Northwest Rankin at the plate.
“I knew if we came in and hit and pitched well then we would be alright,” said Owen, a Hinds CC signee. “This team is one big family and that is what has helped us get to where we are now.”
Adam Jackson (7-3) took the loss for Clinton. Tyrance Carr and Taylor Williamson got the lone two hits for the Arrows.
Contact Brandon Shields at (601) 961-7248 or email@example.com. Follow @BShields_CL on Twitter.