(Cowley College Sports Information) Wichita, Kan. - The No. 2-seeded Cowley College baseball team is headed back to Grand Junction, CO for the second straight year after defeating No. 6-seed Neosho County 17-8 in the Region VI championship game played Monday night at Wichita's Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Tigers qualified to compete at the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, CO May 27-June 2 and will open play against the champion of the Southeastern Region Saturday, May 27 at 10 a.m. CST.
"We are back-to-back," Cowley head coach Dave Burroughs said. "This never gets old."
On Monday, Neosho got a two-run double from Tanner Arst off Tiger starter Matt Krutsch to grab an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. However, Krutsch (4-1) would settle down to go five innings and allow only three earned runs.
A two-run homer from Cowley freshman Ross Messina off Neosho starter Tyler McGrew in the bottom of the second inning tied the game at 2-2. Cowley got back-to-back home runs from Connor Litton and Brooks Zimmerman in a four-run third inning to lead 6-2.
After Neosho got a run back in the top of the fourth, Cowley answered with a RBI double by Zimmerman, a run scoring sacrifice fly by Kea'von Edwards and a RBI single by Messina to chase Panther reliever Tripp Wright from the game with the score 9-3. Cowley would score four more runs in the inning off Neosho reliever Brendan Skye, who had pitched only two innings all season.
Freshman second baseman Kea'von Edwards hit Cowley's fourth home run of the game in the seventh inning and Cowley's lead grew to 17-4 before Neosho scored four meaningless runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Eight Tigers had at least one hit in the victory as Cowley finished with 19 hits. Freshman catcher Dalton Dinkel led the Cowley attack with four hits, while Zimmerman and Messina each finished with three hits, a home run and four RBIs.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Messina said. "We won as a team and need to do the same thing at Grand Junction."
Cowley, winners of seven games in a row, is now 42-16. Sophomore Mason LeClair relieved Krutsch on the mound and went the final four innings and allowed no earned runs.
McGrew (3-6) lasted only 2 1/3 innings on the mound for Neosho as the Panthers finish the season with a record of 43-22.
Edwards, Messina, Zimmerman, and Dinkel were named to the All-Tournament Team and sophomore pitcher Ben Strahm was named the Tournament MVP after throwing a complete game shutout against Neosho on Saturday.
Burroughs, who led the Tigers to their first World Series title during the 40th anniversary of the JUCO World Series in 1997, also took Cowley to the World Series on the 50th anniversary and now the 60th anniversary of the World Series.
"I want the guys to enjoy this, this is the best time of their life," Burroughs said.