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Game One Victory for Cloud County Baseball Leads to Series Split with Pratt

Cloud County's Blayne Fritcher Earned His Second Pitching Win of the Year, Throwing Five Innings and Striking Out Seven
Cloud County's Blayne Fritcher Earned His Second Pitching Win of the Year, Throwing Five Innings and Striking Out Seven

Following up a doubleheader sweep on Friday afternoon, the Cloud County Community College baseball team would earn a 16-4 victory before falling by a score of 12-2 to split a road doubleheader at Pratt Community College to close out the opening week of Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play at Stanion Field in Pratt, Kansas on Saturday, March 11th.

Finishing their first conference series with a four-game split, Cloud County is now 11-8 overall to go along with a 2-2 mark in the KJCCC while Pratt sees their record move to 13-11 overall along with a 2-2 mark in conference play.

Jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning with four hits, The T-Birds would hold the Beavers off the scoreboard until the bottom of the third as a leadoff base runner on a throwing error would come around to score on a two-out groundout to make things a 3-1 lead for CCCC heading into the fourth. Getting the offense going again, Cloud County would take advantage of a leadoff Kolden Howerton double to see each of the first five batters safely reach base with a Landon Meyer RBI single and wild pitch bringing home two more runs to make it a 5-1 T-Bird lead. With the bases loaded and still nobody out, CCCC would add another run on a would-be RBI groundout that would see all runners safe after a PCC error before having sophomore Danny Infante deliver the big blow to the inning with a bases-clearing three-RBI triple to give Cloud County a 9-1 lead. Infante would come around to score in the next at-bat on a wild pitch to cap off what would ultimately be a seven-run inning for CCCC on five hits to hold a commanding lead halfway through the game.

Pratt would respond by getting one run back in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out single coming around to score later in the inning before a strikeout by T-Bird starter Blayne Fritcher to limit the Pratt offense to just the one run in the inning to maintain an eight-run lead. The Beavers would pick up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally coming on a CCCC error, two walks, and two-RBI single for a pair of unearned runs to get back within six at 10-4. Things would then remain a 10-4 game until the top of the seventh when Cloud County would get an Infante leadoff single and Brock Wollin hit-by-pitch to put two runners on for a Howerton three-run home run that would be followed by a Demitri Shakotko solo home run for back-to-back homers. The T-Birds would add another two runs later on in the inning with Anthony Taggert reaching on a one-out single before coming around to score on a Caden Walker home run as Cloud County would blast three home runs in the inning to plate six runs and take a 16-4 lead.

Needing just three outs to pick up their second-straight win over the Beavers, CCCC would allow a leadoff single and one-out single to PCC to put two runners on with one out before inducing a fielder's choice on a ground ball and flyout to end the game and secure at least a series split.

Leaving just two runners stranded in the contest, Cloud County would pound out 16 hits as part of their 16-run performance with six hits going for extra bases and eight different players recording a hit. The trio of Howerton, Taggert, and Shakotko would all record three hits in four at-bats with Howerton driving in a game-high four RBI and scoring three times.

On the mound, Fritcher would go five innings and strike out seven while allowing four runs (zero earned) on five hits to pick up his second pitching victory of the year to improve to 2-1. Brady Stuewe would take care of the final two innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two in a scoreless appearance.

Single runs by the T-Birds in each of the first two innings would allow Cloud County to grab a 2-0 lead as a Gavin Roy triple in the top of the first and Shakotko one-out single in the top of the second would both come around to score in their respective innings to give CCCC an early lead for the third time in the series. Holding Pratt off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth, the T-Birds would see the Beavers manage to turn a leadoff walk and three hits into a four-run inning with back-to-back RBI hits tying things at 2-2 with no outs in the inning to force a Cloud County pitching change with the go-ahead run on base. After a stolen base and two strikeouts, PCC would claim their first lead of the game with a two-run home run from nine-hole hitter Tytin Goebel as a two-run CCCC lead to begin the inning turning into a two-run deficit after four innings of play.

Stranding a runner in the top of the fifth, Cloud County would retire Pratt in order in the bottom of the fifth before seeing another potential rally in the top of the sixth result in no runs as a one-out Howerton single and Shakotko walk getting stranded on a flyout and strikeout to end the inning. Taking advantage of the momentum-building defensive effort in the top half of the inning, Pratt would break things open as a leadoff triple and RBI single would set the tone for what would become the biggest inning of the weekend for PCC with seven hits and a T-Bird error leading to eight runs to turn a two-run game into a 10-run Beaver lead at 12-2. Suddenly faced with needing to score at least one run to extend the game in the top of the seventh, Cloud County would be retired in order with a strikeout, flyout, and groundout ending the game and closing out the series with each team picking up two wins.

Seven hits would come from seven different players in the game for CCCC with Karson Green accounting for Cloud County's lone RBI in the game. Eight strikeouts and four runners left on base would prove to be problematic for the T-Birds as Cloud County would draw just two walks and two hit batters in what would otherwise be a quiet offensive outing. Four different pitchers would see time on the mound for CCCC, with Jack Mount taking the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in a three-inning outing before turning things over to Mason Munz who would allow one run in one-plus inning of work. Phil Brennamen (1.1 innings) and Luke Schmedding (0.2 innings) would also pitch for the T-Birds as the four pitchers would total 10 strikeouts in the game.

What's Next?
Cloud County is off until Thursday, March 16th as the T-Birds will make their longest conference road trip of the season to Liberal, Kansas to take on Seward County Community College in a 1 PM doubleheader at Brent Gould Field. The games will be the final road games before CCCC starts a five-game homestand as both the T-Birds and Saints will be looking to improve upon an opening-week split of their respective conference games.