Cloud County Baseball Tops Allen County 10-3, Forces Game Three in Region VI/Plains District Playoffs

Austin Coyle Gave Cloud County a 2-0 Lead in the Bottom of the First with His Fourth Home Run of the Year on Friday, May 10th
Austin Coyle Gave Cloud County a 2-0 Lead in the Bottom of the First with His Fourth Home Run of the Year on Friday, May 10th

Scoring the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first and jumping out to an 8-0 lead after five innings of play, the Cloud County Community College baseball team bounced back in a big way on Friday afternoon with a 10-3 victory over Allen County Community College to force a winner-take-all game three in the 2024 NJCAA Region VI Plains District Tournament at Lee Doyen Field.

Evening the series at one game apiece, Cloud County improves to 39-19 overall while Allen County drops to 21-34 overall. With the series tied, the T-Birds and Red Devils will be one of just two best-of-three postseason series to go to a winner-take-all game three with Coffeyville evening up their series with Dodge City on Friday afternoon in Dodge City with a 5-3 win.

After being limited to just one run in Thursday's series opener, Cloud County worked around a two-out jam in the top of the first to strand a pair of Red Devil base runners before drawing a leadoff walk by Paul Schuyler to set up an Austin Coyle two-run home run to left field that gave CCCC their first lead of the series. Following a hitless top of the second by ACC, Cloud County was unable to do anything with a leadoff infield single and one-out walk with a fielder's choice and strikeout ending the inning to keep the score at 2-0 in favor of the T-Birds.

One-two-three innings for both teams in the third quickly sent things to the fourth where Allen threatened to get on the board with a leadoff single followed by a double-play and two out walk and hit batter to put the game-tying run on base. A fielder's choice to get out of the inning, however, allowed CCCC to escape without any damage done as the score stayed at 2-0 in favor of Cloud County going to the fifth.

Working around a one-out single from Allen leadoff batter Parker Martin, T-Bird starting pitcher TJ Coats finished off a fifth-straight inning of scoreless baseball on the mound before getting some additional run support in the form of a two-out rally from CCCC that saw Cloud County send 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff double from Schuyler down the left field line and a sacrifice bunt from Coyle that saw everyone safely advance put runners on the corners for Demitri Shakotko to hit an RBI single followed by a Jakob Poturnak groundout to advance both runners. After a popup that put a second out on the board, Cloud County's Noah Konings battled back from an 0-2 hole to draw a walk and load the bases for Landon Meyer who hit a two-RBI single into shallow left field to put CCCC up 5-0. Following Meyer was Cam MaCleod who hit a two-RBI double over the Red Devil center fielder with Gavin Roy keeping the inning alive with an RBI double down the left field line to finish off a five-hit inning that plated six runs for the T-Birds.

The 8-0 lead for Cloud County was more than enough for Coats to be sent back out for another inning of work as ACC drew a leadoff walk and pushed across two runs on a two-run home run from Collin Godfrey to bring the score to 8-2 in favor of the T-Birds. Following the home run, Coats got a strikeout and infield popup to end the inning and finish his day with 97 pitches and five strikeouts. A chance to get the runs back in the bottom of the sixth for CCCC saw the T-Birds load the bases with a two-out rally started by a Poturnak single followed by a Nolan Freund walk and Konings hit-by-pitch before having the inning end on a flyout to left field.

Following a pitching change for Cloud County on the mound with Jack MacIntosh coming on in relief, Allen turned a leadoff pinch-hit walk into a run on a double to left center field with the next three batters being retired in order to limit the damage to just one run. Nothing offensively got going for the T-Birds in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff walk by MaCleod getting stranded at second followed by a one-two-three top of the eighth as Cloud County was assured at least a five-run advantage going into the ninth. Adding to their lead however, were the T-Birds with a Shakotko single to break the career-hits record at Cloud County with his 150th base hit of his career and pass Matt Bondarchuk who had 149 career hits from 2017-2018. Following the Shakotko single was a Poturnak single to put runners on the corners with no outs before a strikeout and Konings getting hit by a pitch to load the bases to set up a Meyer sacrifice fly to bring home Shakotko. MaCleod drove in his third run of the afternoon with an RBI single following the Meyer sacrifice fly to score Poturnak which made the score 10-3 T-Birds.

One final pitching change for CCCC in the top of the ninth brought in Wil Yamka who started the inning off with a strikeout before a hit batter and fielders' choice that saw both the batter and runner safely advance. Coming back with a strikeout to get an out away from the victory, Allen extended the game one more batter with a walk before seeing Yamka strikeout his third and final batter to ensure that game three was to be played on Saturday.

Earning his team-leading eighth win of the year on the mound, Coats allowed two runs on four hits and faced 26 batters in six innings of work to improve to 8-3 overall while MacIntosh and Yamka added another four total strikeouts and allowed one hit over the final three innings of play. At the plate, Cloud County drew six walks, two hit batters, and had 12 hits to finish with double-digit runs for the 19th time this season. Three different T-Birds had multi-hit games including MaCleod with a two-for-three effort and three RBI along with a two-hit games from Shakotko and Poturnak.

What's Next?
It's win or go home for both Cloud County and Allen County on Saturday, May 11th with first pitch at Lee Doyen Field set for 2 PM. Both CCCC and ACC played a decisive game three in their respective postseason series last year, with Cloud County defeating Coffeyville while Allen fell to Butler to see their season end. The winner of tomorrow's contest will face fifth-seeded Kansas City Kansas Community College in game four of the 2024 NJCAA Plains District Tournament at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kansas on Wednesday, May 15th with first pitch against the Blue Devils scheduled for 7 PM to conclude the opening day of action on the campus of Wichita State University.