Panthers host Pirates for Jayhawk season ending double-header

JOHN GIFFIN

Sports editor

INDEPENDENCE — After some confusion of when the games will be played, the Neosho County Community College baseball team split a double header at Independence Community College Thursday.

The Panthers won game one 9-7. Independence won game two 12-5. The double-header originally scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday was pushed back to 3 p.m.

In game one, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead. Neosho scored two runs in the top of the first with Levi Ashmore scoring on a error and Spencer Ibarra scoring on a sacrifice ground ball RBI from Jonah Bride. Neosho led 2-0 after one inning.

Neosho scored another run in the top of the second when Brady Childs scored on a fielder’s choice that led to a Ashmore RBI for a 3-0 lead.

Two more Panther runs were scored in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run from Ashmore. Independence got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Neosho scored three more runs in the top of the fifth. The first came from Bride, who scored on a sacrifice RBI by Blake Tomasino. Evan Bourn then doubled to drive home Ryan Toliver. Bourn scored later via a sacrifice fly from Trevor Burkdoll. 

Independence answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Neosho led 8-4 after five.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh with a Ibarra RBI single that scored Burkdoll.

Independence rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning scoring three runs, but pitcher Nathan Whitcomb struck out Tanne Smith with runners on second and first to end the game.

Tyler Mitzel (4-2) picked up the win. He pitched 6 2/3 of an inning and allowed 12 hits and seven runs while striking out three.

Whitcomb earned the save, pitching 1/3 of an inning with a walk and strike out. 

Burkdoll was 2-for-3 in game one with a RBI and a run scored. Ashmore was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored and home run. Ibarra drove in a run and scored a run with a RBI and a run scored. Bride went 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. Tomasino was 1-for-2 with a RBI.

In game two, Independence scored two runs in the bottom of the first, five runs in the bottom of the second and a run in the bottom of the third for an 8-0 lead. 

Neosho scored its first runs in the top of the fourth with two runs. Bride scored on a bases loaded walk of Bradley Bullock. Toliver scored the second Panther run of the game and the inning on a sacrifice fly RBI from Bourn.

Neosho scored three more runs in sixth. The first came from Bullock, who scored on an error during a Burkdoll at bat. Sutherland drove in Burkdoll and Bourn with a RBI to narrow the Pirate margin to 8-5.

Independence put the game away with a four-run bottom of the eighth.

“The first game we pitched it a lot better,” Neosho Head Baseball Coach Steve Murry said. “Trent (Latta) has been real good for us all year, he just didn’t have his stuff today. It was a bad outing for him. By the time we finally woke up, we were down 8-0 and I was proud of the kids for battling back. We hit a couple balls hard with the bases loaded. If those fall it might be different outcome. They got our bullpen in the eighth, but I was proud of our kids for competing.”

Latta (7-3) was given the loss, pitching 1 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, seven runs - four of the runs earned. 

Drew Johnson pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and one run while striking out three and walking one. Josh Willis pitched three innings. The left-hander allowed five hits and three runs. He struck out two.

Evan Bourn went an inning and gave up two hits and a run. He struck out two.

Tyler Sutherland was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Bullock added a RBI and a run scored. Bourn was 1-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored.

Neosho (21-13 KJCCC East, 36-14 overall) is locked into the No. 3 spot for the National Junior College Athletic Association Region VI playoffs and will host the first round best of three series at Hudson Field Friday. Independence (11-23, 19-31) needs two wins this weekend to reach the Region VI playoffs.

“We need to focus on our focus,” Murry said. “It just kind of shows that if you’re not locked in anybody can beat anybody at anytime. They beat Cowley, They beat Johnson. How they’ve had the year they’ve had is kind of surprising because that’s not a bad team. They’ve knocked off some good people, too, but we’ve got to take care of business Saturday.”

Today’s double-header is the Game on for the Cure. Neosho will be wearing purple uniforms for the double-header that is sponsored by Relay for Life.

Today starts a three-game stretch of double-headers to end the regular season. Sunday Neosho hosts Brown Mackie. Monday the Panthers play a double-header with Rockhurst. With six games in three days, the Panther pitchers will need to be sharp, Murry said,

“We’re going to try and bring Latta back, he only threw 30-35 pitches, so we’ll throw him on Sunday and he’ll have Friday and Saturday to rest. We have to get him right before the playoffs. We kept Willis under 60 pitches, so he’ll have three full days to rest before his start on Monday. We should be fine as long as our starters do their job.”

PANTHERS 9, Indy 7 

NCCC . 210 230 1 -  9 14  1

Indy.  ..  000 220 3 -  7 12  2

Pitchers: PANTHERS - Tyler Mitzel; Nathan Whitcomb(7). Indy - Balocca, Cory; Bowden, Tyler(5);

Garcia, Nil(6).

Win-Tyler Mitzel(4-2)  Save-Nathan Whitcomb(4)  Loss-Balocca, Cory  0

HR NEOSHO - Levi Ashmore.

Indy 12, PANTHERS 5 

NCCC..000 203 000  -  5 10  4

Indy....  251 000 04X  - 12 16  4

Pitchers: PANTHERS - Trent Latta; Drew Johnson(2); Josh Willis(5); Evan Bourn(8). Indy -

Wasche, Matt; Segovia, Rolando(6); Henning, Matt(8); Hack, Jarett(9).

Win-Wasche, Matt  Loss-Trent Latta(7-3)  

Willis faced 3 batters in the 8th.

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