By Nathaniel Frazier firstname.lastname@example.org
May 27, 2017
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Every time the Wallace Governors got close, the Cowley (Kan.) Tigers responded.
Down the stretch, Wallace pitching didn't hold up, and a defensive breakdown in the outfield ultimately ended the game. As a result, the Govs were sent to the losers' bracket after a 13-5 loss to the Tigers in their inaugural appearance in the JUCO World Series on Saturday.
"The game sort of speaks for itself," Wallace coach Mackey Sasser said. "In the beginning, I thought our guys were nervous. But then we began to score and our pitching staff couldn't hold them down. Our relievers have got to come in and throw strikes."
Things started out well for the Govs. Through the first three inning, Wallace starter Philip Sieli had a perfect game going. But in the fourth inning Sieli ran into trouble.
After getting the first out, Sieli walked Jacob Means. The second out came quickly on a routine infield popup. But then Sieli gave up a single to Brooks Zimmerman.
With two runners on base, Kea'von Edwards connected for a three-run homer over the wall in right field. That was followed immediately by a solo blast from Ross Messina to put the Tigers up 4-0.
Though the Govs had six baserunners up to that point – including three in scoring position – Wallace hadn't been able to plate a run. The Govs' first run finally came in the seventh inning. With one out, shortstop Tyler Halas nailed a solo home run over the wall in left-center field. That shot cut the Tigers' lead to 4-1.
Cowley quickly responded with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, reliever John Mason gave up a single to center to the number nine hitter, Joel Spain. Mason then walked lead-off batter Brett Fehr.
The big hit off the inning came next off the bat of Jacob Means, whose shot hit the fence in right-center, then took a crazy carom away from both outfielders. The result was a two-run triple. The third run of the inning followed when Connor Lifton singled to right field. The Tigers had now built their lead to 7-1.
The Govs made one final push in the top of the eighth inning. Donnie Gleneski led off with a home run to right field. That was followed immediately by singles from Mitch McLendon and Adrian Hernandez. That led to a pitching change by the Tigers.
Out went Garrett Hutson and in came Ryan Knowles. Austin Garrett greeted Knowles with a slow roller to third base. However, the throw to first base was wild and McLendon came around to score. Knowles then uncorked a wild pitch and Hernandez scored. Nick Lewis followed with a sacrifice fly to center, plating Garrett with the fourth run of the inning for the Govs and cutting the deficit to 7-5.
But as soon as the Govs worked themselves back into the game, it got away from them.
Mason walked the first batter in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a single to Messina. After getting an out on a bunt, Austin Figueroa replaced Mason on the mound.
Figueroa walked the first two batters he faced, including one with the bases loaded. In came Daniel Floyd, and Floyd walked two more with the bases loaded. The final nail in the coffin came when Zimmerman hit a fly ball to the outfield that could have been caught. But Hernandez and Oliver Tejeda each thought the other was going to catch the ball and neither did. That allowed two more runs to score. That ended the game on the eight-run mercy rule.