Cloud County Baseball Sees Season End at Hands of Johnson County in NJCAA Plains District Tournament

Tom Poole Added One Final Home Run to His Single-Season Record on Thursday, Finishing the Year with 23 Long Balls
Tom Poole Added One Final Home Run to His Single-Season Record on Thursday, Finishing the Year with 23 Long Balls

A fourth elimination game for the Cloud County Community College baseball team in the 2022 postseason proved to be the one that would put an end to the season for the T-Birds following a 14-5, eight-inning defeat to Johnson County Community College at the 2022 Plains District Baseball Tournament at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on Thursday, May 19th.
Finishing their season with an overall record of 42-18, Cloud County finishes the 2022 postseason with three victories and three defeats with all three losses coming against Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference foes. Johnson County improved to 45-16 with the win before knocking out Hutchinson Community College later on Thursday evening to advance to Friday's loser's bracket final against Kansas City Kansas Community College.
With both teams coming off games on Wednesday, day three of the tournament would be one that would get off to a slow start offensively for both squads to set up a scoreless first inning of action. After two strikeouts by the T-Birds in the top of the second, CCCC would appear to have a two-out rally started when sophomore Ian Riley would find the left-center field gap to hit a double and put a runner in scoring position before taking third base on a wild pitch third strike on Ty Wevers that would see the Cavaliers attempt to throw out Riley. The runners on first and third situation would set up a stolen base attempt for Wevers to draw a throw from JCCC, with Johnson County making the throw to second before throwing back home to get Riley and end the inning on a close play at the plate.
The final out of the top of the second would prove to be the first momentum shift of the game as the Cavaliers would take advantage of a throwing error with one out before seeing a second error on the h T-Birds lead to the first run of the game. JCCC would manage to push across one more run later in the inning with a two-out RBI single before stranding two runners on base with a strikeout looking for Giordano Mezzomo.
Looking to respond to the two runs by Johnson County, Cloud County's Alexander Diaz would hit a leadoff single before having Willie Ponce hit a groundout that would move the Brooklyn, New York native into scoring position. Back-to-back hit batters would allow both Brock Wollin and Tom Poole to reach base and load the bases, setting up a Danny Infante RBI single into right field to get CCCC back within a run. Following a strikeout that would put a second out on the board, sophomore Adler Pierson would come up with a clutch two-out hit as a ground-rule double would one hop over the left-field fence and allow the T-Birds to bring home two runners to take their first lead of the game. Following the double, the Cavaliers would elect to go to the bullpen as a pitching change would lead to an inning-ending strikeout to get JCCC out of trouble.
Facing the minimum in the bottom of the third, Cloud County would look to add to their one-run lead in the top of the fourth as a two-out double by Ponce would put another runner in scoring position before being stranded on a groundout. Issuing a leadoff walk, the T-Birds would see the free pass lead to a run after a sacrifice bunt and two-out RBI single tie the game at three all heading into the fifth.
Cloud County would be held scoreless again in the fifth as a one-two-three inning would not see a ball leave the infield with the Cavaliers starting to build momentum. Erasing a leadoff single on a pick-off play, Mezzomo would then issue a one-out single that would be followed by a double to put runners on the corners for the Cavaliers. Things would become problematic in the next at-bat as Collin Brueggemann would turn on a pitch from Mezzomo that would clear the left-field fence and end up in the Johnson County bullpen as a three-run home run would give JCCC the lead at 6-3. Battling back from the home run, Mezzomo would induce an infield popup before getting a strikeout to end the inning as the damage would be limited to just the three runs.
Trying to find another response to the offensive output of Johnson County, Cloud County would get two walks to start the top of the sixth, but see a groundout be followed by a strikeout and fly out to center field that would strand a pair of runners in scoring position. Having been able to get out of the jam in the top of the inning, the Cavaliers would add to their lead in the bottom of the inning as two more costly errors by the T-Birds would help set up a three-run inning to turn things into a 9-3 contest.
With things beginning to get into the latter stages of the game, CCCC would get a one-out solo home run from Poole in the top of the seventh to go along with a solo home run from Kolden Howerton with two outs in the inning to get two runs back and move back within four at 9-5. Turning to reliever Conner Woods out of the bullpen after seeing the Winfield, Kansas native start Tuesday's contest, Johnson County would be retired in order with two ground outs and a flyout keeping the deficit at four.
The Cavaliers would respond by making a move to the bullpen of their own, working around a leadoff walk drawn by Riley to keep the T-Birds off the scoreboard in what would prove to be a pivotal moment for CCCC. Needing to keep the deficit where it was at to try and give themselves a chance in the ninth, Things would fall apart for Cloud County in the bottom of the eighth as a hit batter and walk to start the inning would set up a three-run home run to put JCCC one run away from ending the game. After a pair of ground outs, Johnson County would extend the inning with an infield single before their third home run of the game would end the season for the T-Birds while giving the Cavaliers a 2-1 season series victory over Cloud County.
CCCC's five runs would come on seven hits with seven different players recording one hit each. Pierson would be the only T-Bird to drive in more than one run as seven strikeouts would offset four walks and two hit batters for Cloud County with seven runners winding up stranded to end innings. A seven-strikeout performance from Mezzomo on the mound would be hindered by allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks as defensive miscues would be one of the bigger stories for the T-Birds. In total, Cloud County would commit six errors which would lead to three unearned runs for Johnson County.