Cloud County Baseball Splits Saturday Doubleheader, Takes Series Win Over Barton

Demitri Shakotko Recorded Cloud County's Second Five-RBI Game of the Year on Saturday, April 13th while Scoring Six Times Across Two Games
Demitri Shakotko Recorded Cloud County's Second Five-RBI Game of the Year on Saturday, April 13th while Scoring Six Times Across Two Games

Coming off their second-straight doubleheader sweep of Barton and going for their first series win against the Cougars since 2019, the Cloud County Community College baseball team made the most of a late rally to secure to an 8-7 win in game one before dropping game two by a score of 20-10 to split a road doubleheader at Lawson-Biggs Field in Great Bend, Kansas on Saturday, April 13th.

The game one victory gave the T-Birds the series win while running their record to 29-13 overall and 15-5 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division at the conclusion of the day's action while Barton is now 29-14 and 14-10 in the KJCCC West.

Game One:
Needing just seven runs in each of Thursday's games to complete a home sweep of BCC, runs proved a bit harder to come by in the early stages of Saturday's doubleheader opener as Cloud County stranded single base runners in each of the first two innings before being retired in order in the third to keep things deadlocked at 0-0 heading to the bottom of the third. Making the most of a leadoff walk to open the scoring, Barton put a second-base runner on two batters later with a hit-by-pitch to set up an RBI single to go up 1-0 with a larger threat looming as a fielder's choice loaded the bases before a strikeout and popout in foul territory to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Having avoided a big inning from Barton just half an inning earlier, Cloud County was poised not to let the same thing happen to them as Demitri Shakotko hit a leadoff single before a two-run home run for Noah Konings to give CCCC a 2-1 lead. Nolan Freund followed two batters later with a single to set up a two-out rally with Cam MaCleod hitting a single to set up an RBI single from Austin Coyle as the T-Birds pushed across three runs on five hits to take a two-run lead. The lead for Cloud County didn't even last a half-inning as the Cougars once again took advantage of free base runners with a leadoff walk and one-out bunt single putting two runners aboard to flip the BCC lineup over to the top. Robby Bolin brought Barton back within a run with an RBI single before a two-RBI single that put the Cougars back out in front as BCC matched the three runs from the top of the inning by Cloud County to go back out in front by a score of 4-3.

Scoring was far from over as CCCC put each of their first two batters safely aboard followed by a flyout which sparked a pitching change from Barton as the Cougars turned to their closer with one out in the top of the fifth. A Freund double brought Shakotko home to tie the game at 4-4 as Cloud County threatened to reclaim the lead before being turned back with the go-ahead run stranded at third. Getting a one-two-three inning from reliever Noah Bourgois, Cloud County quickly reclaimed the lead in the top of the sixth with a Gavin Roy one-out hit batter setting up a two-run blast from Paul Schuyler as the T-Birds put three straight runners aboard to force another BCC pitching change. A second-straight hit batter put runners at first and second with just one out and was followed by a Jakob Poturnak walk to load the bases with Freund once again coming up big with a two-RBI single into right field to turn a two-run Cloud County lead into a four-run lead at 8-4.

CCCC's advantage was threatened once again by Barton in the bottom of the sixth as a hit batter and walk set up a two-out three-run home run by Kyler Horsman to bring the Cougars back within a run at 8-7 with Bourgeois avoiding any more damage by inducing a lineout to right field. Unable to push across any additional insurance runs in the top of the seventh, Cloud County was forced to make another call to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh as BCC put the game-tying run aboard with an infield single followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position. Making one final move to get a better matchup at the plate, the T-Birds brought in Conlin Grady who was able to put the second out of the inning on the board with a strikeout before allowing the game-winning run to reach base on a walk as the Cougar threat continued to be an issue. Grady remained composed however and was able to get Barton's top hitter Robby Bolin to pop up in foul territory with left fielder Shakotko making the catch to end the game with the threat being thwarted one final time.

Both teams stranded nine runners in the contest with Barton looking to make the most out of seven walks to offset a 12-7 advantage in hits for Cloud County with the T-Birds collecting three of the four extra-base hits in the game. A two-hit, three-run performance from Shakotko was combined with a four-for-four game from Freund who also drove in a game-high three runs to lead CCCC at the plate with the top six batters in the Cloud County lineup accounting for 10 of the 12 hits. Four total pitchers were used by CCCC, with Jack MacIntosh taking a no-decision despite striking out five batters in 3.1 innings of work before seeing Bourgeois earn his second win of the year to improve to 2-0 in a 2.2-inning outing. Myles Chamberlain allowed one hit and faced two total batters on six pitches before seeing Grady come in to complete his second save of the year by needing 12 pitches to get the final two outs of the game.

Game Two:
What appeared to be a promising start offensively for Cloud County saw seven batters come to the plate in the top of the first with Shakotko and Poturnak hitting RBI singles to go along with a fielding error by Barton that led to a third run come home as part of a three-run inning to start the game. The Cougars responded with an unearned run of their own in the bottom of the first as a leadoff single came around to score following a stolen base and throwing error to set up an RBI groundout with the T-Birds maintaining a 3-1 lead heading into the third. A solo home run for Freund in the top of the fourth allowed CCCC to match their largest lead of the game at 4-1 before seeing a crooked number get put up by BCC in the bottom of the inning with three extra-base hits providing some damage including a baes-loaded three-RBI double by Owen Bailey to put the Cougars up 5-4.

The one-run deficit for Cloud County did not last long as Schuyler drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a passed ball with Shakotko hitting a two-run go-ahead home run to force a Barton pitching change for the second time in the contest. Keeping the Cougars off the scoreboard in their end of the fourth along with the bottom of the fifth, CCCC pushed across two more runs in the top of the sixth with Shakotko again driving home Schuyler before scoring two batters later on a Poturnak sacrifice fly as Cloud County took an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

Inexplicably, a one-out rally for the Cougars in the bottom of the sixth proved to be something that nobody could have predicted as 15 consecutive Barton batters reached base in the inning following a leadoff strikeout from reliever Ethan Price as the T-Birds were forced to use six different pitchers in the inning. In total, BCC scored 15 runs on 12 hits and took advantage of one Cloud County error while leaving the bases loaded as an 8-5 lead for CCCC to begin the bottom of the inning was suddenly turned into a 20-8 deficit with Cloud County now in a position to have to score at least three runs to extend the game into the bottom of the seventh.

Back-to-back singles to begin the seventh gave the appearance as though the T-Birds might be able to put together a game-extending rally, but a strikeout and fielder's choice quickly put two outs on the board with a run yet to be scored in the inning. Collecting his third hit of the game with an RBI single, Schuyler kept CCCC alive for at least one more batter with Shakotko driving home another run to force a Barton pitching change which proved to be the final change with a fielder's choice ending the game early by run rule.

With 34 total hits in the game and eight walks, the T-Bird and Cougars combined to strand 15 base runners with BCC outhitting CCCC 19-15 while driving in 19 of their 20 runs scored. Cloud County saw Shakotko and Schuyler combine for seven hits as both had perfect games at the plate to go along with six runs scored and six RBI with Shakotko recording the second five-RBI game of the year by a T-Bird. Only starting pitcher John Klus was able to last more than 0.2 innings in the game, throwing five innings and striking out five to take a no-decision despite exiting the game in line for the win as the remaining six CCCC pitchers combined to allow 15 runs on 12 hits.

What's Next?
Non-conference play comes to an official end for the regular season on Monday, April 15th for Cloud County as the T-Birds make one final step out of KJCCC play with a 1 PM home doubleheader against the Kansas Wesleyan University JV team. Heading into Monday's games, Cloud County is 14-8 in non-conference action with a trio of wins over teams currently ranked in the NJCAA Division I Baseball top-five.