Cloud County Baseball Team Extends Season with 11-6 Elimination Game Victory Over Barton

Cloud County Baseball Team Extends Season with 11-6 Elimination Game Victory Over Barton
Cloud County Baseball Team Extends Season with 11-6 Elimination Game Victory Over Barton

The 2022 season for the Cloud County Community College has been extended for another day following a third elimination-game victory for the T-Birds by knocking out second-seeded Barton Community College with an 11-6 win at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on Wednesday, May 18th.
Picking up win 42 on the year, Cloud County is now 42-17 overall ahead of their fourth-elimination game in an eight-day span while the Cougars see their season come to an end at 41-18 with both losses coming to Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division foes at the Plains District Tournament.
"We get to play another day of baseball and that's the goal every day now" said head coach Eric Gilliland in a post-game interview. "We just competed today and put together competitive at-bats throughout the day." "On the mound, it wasn't beautiful, but we pieced together three guys that really came in and competed and minimized Barton all the way to the end."
Unable to produce a base runner until the top of the seventh on Tuesday, Cloud County would make sure that the wait would not be nearly as long on Wednesday morning following a two-hour delay to the original start with games being moved from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning. Hit batters for both Willie Ponce and Brock Wollin would put a pair of runners on for CCCC before seeing a strikeout and groundout put two outs on the board with the runners at second and third. Coming through with a clutch two-out, two-RBI triple would be freshman Kolden Howerton to bring the T-Bird dugout alive and get out to an early lead on the Cougars.
With sophomore Christian Womble on the mound, Cloud County would get two quick outs in the bottom of the first before finding trouble as a single, and two walks would load the bases and allow BCC to threaten to answer the early scoring from CCCC. Inducing a second ground ball in the inning would prove to be the key to getting out of the inning however as the T-Birds would force a fielder's choice to strand three Barton runners and maintain their lead heading to the second.
Two quick outs for Cloud County in the second would be followed by a second walk issued to Ponce on the day to put a base runner on before a lined shot to the third baseman would be caught and take away a potential extra-base hit from Wollin to end the inning. The Cougars would then turn a one-out error into a run as a two-out single would bring home the first run of the game for BCC before Womble would escape more trouble by stranding Barton's Alex Rodgers at third.
Barton would then add single runs in the third and fourth while stranding runners for Cloud County in each of the two innings as the T-Birds would see a once two-run lead turn into a 3-2 deficit heading into the fifth. Set down in order for the first time all-game, CCCC would see momentum starting to shift over to Barton as the Cougars would be back up at the plate working with a lead before deciding to make a call to the bullpen and bring in sophomore Joel Benes. A one-out single would be all that BCC would be able to string together in the fifth as things would remain a one-run deficit for Cloud County with the T-Birds having the bottom of the order due up.
A quick out on a fly ball by Ian Riley would make way for an Adler Pierson double into the left-center field gap as the Wamego, Kansas native would see teammate Ty Wevers rope an RBI double into the left-field corner to tie things at 3-3. Freshman Alexander Diaz would then leg out an infield single to put runners on the corners before seeing a passed ball bring home Wevers to put Cloud County back on top and be followed by a pop-out to put two outs on the board. Turning to their bullpen to get a left-handed pitcher to face left-handed hitting Wollin, the Cougars would see move backfire as Wollin would hit an RBI single to set off a string of three-straight two-out RBI hits with Tom PooleDanny Infante, and Howerton all driving in runs to cap off a six-run inning to put CCCC up 8-3.
With the shift in momentum swung clearly back in the favor of the T-Birds, Benes would work a one-two-three inning against the Barton and allow Cloud County to get back up to the plate to try and add to their lead. A leadoff walk for CCCC would be eliminated on a stolen base attempt and be followed by a two-out hit batter, but the Cougars would get out of the inning unscathed to send things to the seventh-inning stretch.
The scoring would be far from over for either team as back-to-back singles from BCC would put runners on first and third with no outs before a wild pitch that would allow the runner at first to move into scoring position. After a strikeout for a big first out of the inning, the Cougars would manage to get a two-RBI double to cut into the Cloud County lead. A groundout to move the runner to third would be followed by a pinch-hit situation for Barton that would turn into an RBI infield single that would see the five-run T-Bird lead cut down to two at 8-6 when the inning ended on a one-hop groundout to the Benes.
Needing an insurance run to set things up for closer Rans Sanders to enter in the bottom of the eighth, Cloud County would get their call answered when Poole would step to the plate and launch a one-out solo home run off the center-field batter's eye for his single-season record-extending 22nd home run of the year and give CCCC a three-run lead to work with to get the six necessary outs to advance.
The biggest test for Sanders would come in the bottom of the eighth as the Cougars would have the top of their lineup due up which included two of the top three hitters in batting average in the KJCCC in Rodgers and Ricardo Sanchez, but the Grand Island, Nebraska native would not be fazed and work a perfect one-two-three inning on just five total pitches. Pierson would then draw a leadoff walk to give Cloud County their fifth leadoff base runner of the game before seeing Wevers draw a second walk to put a runner in scoring position. A sacrifice bunt by Diaz would take a potential double-play out of the options in play for Barton as both runners would advance 90 feet as the pressure would now be clearly on the Cougars. Coming up for his sixth plate appearance of the day, Ponce would hit a slow ground ball to second base that would be mishandled by the BCC infielder and allow all runners to safely advance and bring home what would become an unearned run. After having a pop-up behind home plate put Barton an out away from getting out of the inning, Poole would extend the inning and drive home Wevers with a base hit into right field as the error for Barton proved costly to give the T-Birds an 11-6 lead.
Matching his outing from the bottom of the eighth, Sanders would once again be lights-out for CCCC by needing just 11 pitches to induce two ground outs and an infield pop out to end the game and keep Cloud County around for at least one more day.
In addition to a five-for-nine performance from their leadoff hitters each inning, the T-Birds would see seven of their 11 hits come with two outs on the scoreboard which included four of their 11 runs scoring with two-out base hits. Leading the charge would be a three-for-five effort and two RBIs from Poole while Howerton would collect two hits and drive in a pair of runs. A day after not drawing a single walk, Cloud County would get six free passes and six hit batters for 12 free base runners as part of their offensive performance.
A strong four-inning outing from Womble would lead to a no-decision for the Pittsfield, Massachusetts native after allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and three strikeouts before seeing Benes throw the following two innings and strike out two to improve to 6-0. Picking up his 13th career save would be Sanders to break the career record that he had tied last Friday while also tying the single-season save record set by Tommy Smoot (2003) and Alex Miller (2011) with seven saves. The outing also ran the season earned run average for Sanders down to 2.45 in 18 outings on the year.
What's Next?
The waiting game begins as Cloud County is currently scheduled to play in game eight of the Plains District Tournament on Thursday, May 18th at 1 PM against the loser of either fifth-seeded Johnson County or top-seeded Cowley. Johnson County defeated Colby by a score of 11-1 in five innings in a game that was moved from Tuesday night to 8 AM on Wednesday while Cowley had their game against Butler suspended in the bottom of the eighth on Tuesday before walking off the Grizzlies in the 11th. The Cowley/Johnson County game is scheduled to be the final game of the day on Wednesday, with the Colby/Butler elimination game and Kansas City Kansas/Hutchinson winner's bracket game to take place prior to their game.