Cloud County Baseball Drops Two Games in Series Finale with Hutchinson
By David Wilson
CCCC Sports Information Director
The Cloud County Community College baseball team lost the final two games of its four-game set against Hutchinson Community College on Friday, falling 11-1 and 9-8 in extra innings, respectively and falling 3-1 in the series against the Blue Dragons.
"There were no moral victories for us Friday. We at least entered the fight in Game Four," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "Losing a series is not what we're after and we've got to get better."
The afternoon got off to a tough start for the T-Birds (7-11 overall, 2-6 KJCCC) as Hutchinson (10-8 overall, 4-4 KJCCC) struck for three runs in the first inning of Game One, and blew the game open with a seven-run second inning.
Cloud County pushed across its run in the top of the third inning on an RBI double from sophomore outfielder Enrique Gonzalez.
In Game Four, Cloud County found itself in a similar early hole as the Blue Dragons jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
The T-Birds were able to bounce back, though, with two runs in the top of the second and three runs in the top of the fourth -- all coming with two outs in the inning -- to take a 5-4 lead.
The game seesawed back-and-forth in the late innings, with Hutchinson taking a 7-5 lead following a three-run fifth inning, and the T-Birds rallying back to tie the game at 8-8 down to their last out in the ninth.
Sophomore shortstop Aidan Huggins lined a two-out single up the middle and advanced to second on a bobble by Hutchinson's center fielder. He came around to score one batter later on a smash by sophomore second baseman Preston Allerheiligen, who finished 2-for-5 with an RBI, that was whiffed on by Hutchinson's third baseman.
In the bottom of the ninth, sophomore right-hander Jacob Uhing sat down the Blue Dragons in order in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
Unfortunately for the T-Birds and Uhing, a sinking liner by Hutchinson's Logan Sartori to lead off the tenth inning made its way past a diving T-Bird and rolled all the way to the wall for triple.
Cloud was forced to walk the bases loaded with no outs, setting up a force at every base. One batter later, Hutchinson's Zach Baxley hit a smash to shortstop that the T-Birds couldn't field cleanly, allowing Sartori to score the winning run from third.
Uhing was saddled with the tough-luck loss, finishing with two runs allowed and five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. He highlighted what was a solid day from Cloud County relievers as Uhing, sophomore Daniel Bachura and Jacob Dauer all received extended work between the two games Friday.
Bachura pitched a career-high 4 1/3 innings -- the first four of which were scoreless -- and Dauer went 3 1/3 innings in Game Three.
"We got 1 2/3 innings out of our starting pitching combined, and that was going into a day where we were without two of our weekend starters, so we were pulling guys out of the bullpen," Gilliland said. "The positive on the day was some of our bullpen guys threw a lot of quality innings in situations we haven't asked them to do during their careers. Three guys finished two games, got extended, and got us a lot of outs."
Sophomore outfielders Ryan Simons (3-for-6, 3 runs scored) and Matt Bondarchuk (3-for-6) each had productived days atop the T-Birds' lineup in the series finale.
Cloud County will look to bounce back Tuesday when it hosts non-conference foe, Southeast Community College. The single, nine-inning game is scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. at Lee Doyen Field in Concordia.
"We've got to play well on Tuesday against a team that played in the Junior College World Series last year," Gilliland said. "It'll be another good test for us. It's not enough to be in the game with good teams anymore. We have to be able to step up and win these types of games and Tuesday will be another opportunity for us."