Even after committing too many errors in a baseball game that would ultimately amount to a grand total of 22 runs, Neosho County Community College still had a chance to win their ninth game of the season Thursday against rival Allen Community College.
On a blustery afternoon with the sun beaming on certain parts of the field, a handful of NCCC faithful covered up in hoodies, jackets, blankets and hats at Hudson Field. NCCC’s Drew Miller had a chance to tie the game with runners on second and third. But on a 2-1 count, Miller hit a harmless bouncing grounder in the infield that led to the 21st out, promptly ending the game at 13-11. It was the fourth straight loss to Allen dating
back to last year. The Panthers dropped to 8-4 heading into Game 2.
On the NCCC side, Luke Burk mustered up an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the third, a towering fly ball that disappeared in the sun. Burk also had a double on the day. Connor Jeffers had a triple and two singles, while Andrew Brautman registered four singles, a double and two RBIs. Khalil Thrasher (three RBI), Mason Lundgrin, Chase Curtis and Chaseton Wylie all smoked doubles, too.
NCCC put up 20 hits – the second most this season. But miscues and ACC’s production overcame the NCCC onslaught.
Allen’s Kurt Golubski tallied two doubles and an RBI, while both Jonah Weisner and Lukas Rich, a returning first-team All-Conference player, recorded two singles. Weisner knocked in a run. On the pitching side, Allen’s Jakota Sainsbury allowed 10 hits and five earned runs, before being replaced by Alex Kafka, who have up 10 hits and struck out eight batters.
The top of the sixth was the turning point for Allen. With the score 11-9 NCCC heading into the top of the sixth, the Red Devils managed to put up four runs due to an RBI-single by Jake Nemith, a wild pitch thrown by NCCC’s Brett Wiemers that scored a runner, a sacrifice fly by Landon Dull that brought in an RBI, and an error on a play to second base. Wiemers gave up just one hit and a walk in two innings.
“The key factors are that we had an absolutely terrible pitching performance out of our starter (right-handed pitcher Josh Flack) and then we got a decent little relief job until he (RHP Tyler McQuinn) lost it and then couldn’t compete out there,” head coach Steve Murry said. “We had five errors that were routine balls that they scored many, many runs on. We had base-running errors. We probably made literally 30 mistakes, between base-running, fielding, hitting and pitching, and you’re not going to beat anybody with that, but yet we still had a chance at the end to win, so that’s the positive, but the rest, that’s as bad as we can play.”
Flack gave up four walks, and three earned runs in a four-hitter game, while McQuinn struck out three and walked one in a three-hitter game.
Meanwhile, ACC sixth-year coach Clint Stoy thought the top of the sixth was a sight to see.
“Our guys are going to compete. They’re going to keep plugging, we’re not going to give away at-bats, and that’s going to be the key to our success all season,” Stoy said.
Allen virtually gave up no at-bats in the top of the first, as the Red Devils scored four runs on three hits and an error to put the score at 4-0. Allen would get up by as much as five runs after Nemith singled to score Rich to put the score at 7-2 in the top of the second. ACC, though, had just eight hits on the day.
Still, the Panthers kept on plugging away in the bottom of the second and third innings. NCCC amassed three runs on two hits in the second, including a double by Curtis that scored Wylie, and six runs on eight hits and no errors in the third. Burk hit his home run, while Miller singled to bring in Curtis and Jeffers, which gave NCCC the lead until the sixth.
A one hit, two-run inning in the top of the fifth, and a four run, two-hit top of the sixth for ACC would doom the Panthers, however.
Murry had one message for his players heading into Game 2.
“Play better, it’s going to be a long season. (If) we can’t clean up our errors, it’s going to be a long season. If we can’t pitch better than that, it’s going to be a long season, so we got to go out and grind it out, and get better. Go get better,” Murry told the team.
Up next, NCCC will finish off the four-game series versus Allen on Saturday. The Panthers will resume a 12-10 game they are down in at 12 noon, as Game 2 was called on Thursday because the field was too dark in the evening. The next two games will be 1 pm and 3 pm.