Cloud County Baseball Advances in 2024 NJCAA Region VI Plains District Tournament, Defeats Allen County 15-8

Cloud County Has Advanced in the Region VI/Plains District Tournament and will Take on No. 5 Kansas City Kansas Community College on Wednesday, May 15th at 7 pm at Eck Stadium on the Campus of Wichita State University
Cloud County Has Advanced in the Region VI/Plains District Tournament and will Take on No. 5 Kansas City Kansas Community College on Wednesday, May 15th at 7 pm at Eck Stadium on the Campus of Wichita State University

Riding momentum from Friday's 10-3 victory to force a winner-take-all game three on Saturday, the Cloud County Community College baseball team used the long ball to blast three home runs and score 15 runs to take a 15-8 win over Allen County Community College and give head coach Eric Gilliland his 250th coaching victory as head coach of the T-Birds at Lee Doyen Field on May 11th.

With the milestone win coming in the 2024 NJCAA Region VI Plains District Tournament, Cloud County picks up their 40th win of the year for the second time in three seasons to improve to 40-19 overall. Allen County has its season end in the Plains District Tournament winner-take-all game for the second straight season and finishes with a 21-35 overall record.

With an early lead being key for both teams looking to grab momentum and get into the opponent's bullpen, the T-Birds were able to work around a two-out rally from the Red Devils that saw two walks and a single get stranded on a flyout to center field to end the top of the first with the bases loaded. A shallow single into right field from leadoff batter Landon Meyer got the CCCC offense going for Cloud County with Austin Coyle following up a two-run first-inning home run on Friday by roping an RBI triple down into the right field corner to break a scoreless tie and give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead. A day after setting the career-hits record at CCCC, Demitri Shakotko drove in the second run of the game with a sacrifice fly as the T-Birds pushed across two runs in the first to grab the early momentum.

Stranding a leadoff infield single by inducing two groundouts and a flyout, Cloud County was unable to get anything going in their end of the second before working around a leadoff walk in the top of the third by erasing Caleb Horsey with a 2-4 caught stealing to face the minimum from ACC in the inning. Two quick outs in the form of a strikeout and lineout to left field appeared to have CCCC destined for a one-two-three inning of their own until Coyle found the right-center field gap for his second triple of the afternoon which set up a Shakotko squeeze bunt that drove home another run and extended the inning with Cloud County holding a 3-0 lead going to the fourth.

A leadoff home run from Allen's Parker Martin put the Red Devils on the board and cut the deficit for ACC to 3-2 before seeing T-Bird starter Noah Bourgeois retire the next three batters and limit the damage to just one run. Two of the first three batters in the bottom of the fourth for Cloud County reached base with Jakob Poturnak hitting a single just inside the third-base bag into left field followed by Noah Konings one-out walk which set up a TJ Coats no-doubt three-run home run that set the tone moving forward for the T-Bird offense. Following a scoreless top of the fifth from the Red Devils, the CCCC offense got going again with Meyer welcoming Allen reliever Elias Muller into the game with a leadoff single followed by a Coyle bunt single to put two runners on with no outs. After a flyout to left field for the first out of the inning, Poturnak did his best to follow up the three-run blast from Coats in the fourth with a three-run home run of his own to dead center field and the deepest part of the ballpark to put Cloud County up 9-1.

The inning wasn't over for the T-Birds as two walks and a single loaded the bases to force another Red Devil pitching change with nine-hole hitter Gavin Roy collecting his second hit of the series with a two-RBI single to score Nolan Freund and Konings to finish off a five-run inning. Allowing Bourgeois to work with a 10-run advantage, the Surrey, British Columbia native retired three of the final four batters he faced to close out his day with one run allowed in six innings of work and five strikeouts while in line to pick up his fourth win of the year.

Already with 11 runs through five innings of play, Cloud County put together another strong offensive inning in the sixth with Shakotko drawing a leadoff walk followed by the second home run of the day for Poturnak with a two-run blast to left field as Roy drove in pinch-hitter Easton Mould later in the inning to put CCCC up 14-1. Not ready to give up however was Allen as the Red Devils took advantage of a Cloud County pitching change to send 12 batters to the plate in the top of the seventh and score six runs on four hits, four hits batters, and one walk to extend the game with the score becoming 14-7 in favor of the T-Birds.

Getting one run back in the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back two-out doubles from Poturnak and Freund to take a 15-7 lead, CCCC surrendered one run in the top of the eighth with a solo home run from Armando Navarro which brought the lead back down to seven. Putting their first two batters of the bottom of the eighth on base with base-hit singles, Cloud County saw a double-play put a quick stop to another potential offensive rally with the Red Devils getting out of the inning unscathed. Needing just three outs to finish off the win, T-Bird reliever Caden Walker was sent out for his second inning of work and induced a leadoff groundout before issuing a walk and responded with a fielder's choice and game-ending strikeout to put a final exclamation point on the home portion of the 2024 Cloud County schedule.

Going four-for-five with five RBI, Poturnak led the 18-hit offensive charge for CCCC with his second four-hit game of the season. Coyle finished up a five-hit weekend with a three-for-five effort with three runs scored as the top seven batters in the lineup for Cloud County had at least one hit and went a combined 13-for-29 at the plate in the game. Bourgeois remained unbeaten on the year with his fourth win in his 10th appearance of the year as the T-Birds are now 4-1 in games that the freshman starts on the mound.

What's Next?
For the fourth-straight season, Cloud County will face a familiar conference foe in the Plains District Tournament with the fourth-seeded T-Birds taking on fifth-seeded Kansas City Kansas Community College in the final game of day one of the five-day tournament on Wednesday, May 15th. First pitch is tentatively scheduled for 7 PM on Wednesday at Eck Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University as CCCC will be closing out the opening day of action for the second-straight year. Last year, Cloud County dropped their Plains District Tournament opening game at Eck Stadium by a score of 3-1 to Cowley Community College before being eliminated with an 11-3 defeat to KCKCC. The Blue Devils have spent a good portion of the season ranked in the NJCAA Division I Top-20 and finished third in the KJCCC East behind Johnson County and Cowley while holding a 46-10 overall record.

Plains District Tournament Double-Elimination Bracket:
The 2024 NJCAA Plains District Tournament double-elimination bracket portion will get underway on Wednesday, May 15th with eight teams advancing to Wichita State University and Eck Stadium for the five-day event. Of the eight advancing teams, six won with 2-0 sweeps in their best-of-three series with Dodge City and Cloud County coming away with 2-1 victories in their respective series. Only one lower-seeded team was able to win a series on the road with 10th-seeded Barton Community College defeating seventh-seeded Fort Scott 2-0 in Fort Scott this past week to advance with the remaining seven teams all holding top-eight seeds. Game one on Wednesday will kick off the tournament at 10 AM and feature third-seeded Cowley against sixth-seeded Dodge City with two-seed Hutchinson taking on 10th-seeded Barton at 1 PM in game two. The back half of day one will feature top overall seed Johnson County taking on eighth-seeded Butler at 4 PM with fourth-seeded Cloud County taking on fifth-seeded Kansas City Kansas Community College in the nightcap at 7 PM. A full preview of the tournament with live video and statistics links will be posted early next week prior to the start of the tournament.