(Cowley Sports Information) Grand Junction, Colo, - The No. 6-ranked Cowley College baseball team fell behind early in its game against eighth-ranked San Jacinto-North (TX) and were never able to recover in a 14-3 season-ending loss Thursday in the JUCO World Series played in Grand Junction, CO. With the loss, the Tigers placed third nationally.
Despite the disappointing loss, Cowley head coach Dave Burroughs was proud to see his team be one of the final three teams playing at the JUCO World Series.
"Our program needed this," Burroughs said. "We made our region relevant again."
With Cowley's top-three starting pitchers unavailable to pitch on Thursday, Cowley used a different pitcher in each of the first five innings and six pitchers total in the run-rule defeat. Cowley finishes another stellar season with a record of 45-18.
"It was a great ride,"Burroughs said.
San-Jacinto (47-16) improves to 5-0 at the World Series and advances to the title game where they will face Chipola Junior College (49-9) Friday at 8:30 CST. Since Chipola already has one loss in the tournament, they would need to beat San-Jacinto on Friday and then again on Saturday.
On Thursday, Cowley gave the ball to sophomore Matt Krutsch (4-3), who recorded only four outs before leaving the game facing a 5-0 deficit. In Krutsch's defense, two of San Jacinto's three runs in the first inning came on a pair of Tiger errors. However, Gator shortstop Sergio Macias chased Krutsch from the game with a two-run homer off the right field scoreboard with one out in the top of the second inning.
San Jacinto lead off man Tristan Metten greeted Tiger reliever Mason LeClair by hitting a solo home run to make it back-to back homers for the Gators, who led 6-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning.
Cowley got on the board in the bottom of the second as Kea'von Edwards singled, moved to third on a double by Ross Messina, and scored on a ground out by Tiger catcher Payne McCutcheon. Messina scored Cowley's second run on a wild pitch by Gator pitcher MacGregor Hines.
San Jacinto's third home run of the game, this time by Nick Perez with one out in the top of the third inning, chased LeClair from the game. However, Cowley got the run back in the bottom of the third inning when Jacob Means singled, advanced to third on a double by Connor Litton, and scored on a RBI ground out by Brooks Zimmerman.
Caleb Rogge, who relieved LeClair in the top of the third, walked the first two batters in the fourth and was relieved on the mound by Ryan Knowles. Following a strikeout, Knowles threw a wild pitch that Tiger catcher Payne McCutcheon could not locate allowing Wyatt Cross to score from second base. The next batter, Michael Smith, hit a high fly ball that right fielder Jack Duke lost in the lights allowing Macias to score from second and increase the Gators' lead to 9-3. Luke Watson added to the Tigers' deficit with a RBI triple and the hits kept coming as San Jacinto would score four runs in the inning and three more in the fifth to run-rule the Tigers.
Hines allowed just five hits and two earned runs to improve his record to 12-3 on the season.
Cowley will say goodbye to 16 sophomores that helped the Tigers win 21 of its last 24 games and advance to the JUCO World Series for the second consecutive year and eighth time in the program's history.
"You have got to tip your hat to those guys," Burroughs said.
Ross Messina (.328 average, 6 home runs, 54 RBI), Dalton Dinkel (.385 average, 31 RBI), and pitchers Caleb Rogge (6-3, 4.14 ERA) and Mark Hartley (1-0, 3.95 ERA in 13 2/3 innings) highlight the list of freshmen that could return next season.
"There is a base there we can build around," Burroughs said.