May 9 Crowder College at Joplin, Missouri
The third-seeded State Fair Community College (SFCC) Roadrunners defeated the second-seeded and 14th ranked Crowder College Roughriders from Neosho, Missouri 5-4 in the opening round of the NJCAA Region 16 Tournament at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Missouri.
The SFCC offense got off to a quick start scoring three runs in the top the first inning. Crowder answered with two in the bottom of the fifth inning. SFCC scored single runs in the top of the sixth inning and in the top of the seventh inning to extend the advantage. The Roughriders refused to go quietly scoring two runs in the bottom the eighth inning. Crowder loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. Freshman pitcher Garrett Morrow recorded back-to-back huge strikeouts to slam the door and record the save for SFCC.
"I was extremely proud of our guys," said SFCC Baseball Head Coach Jud Kindle. "We played a good game all around. We played solid defense and got a good pitching performance from (sophomore pitcher) Logan Bexten. I can't say enough about what we were able to do at the end of the game."
Freshman utility player Ian Jacobs had a pair of hits, including a double and two runs batted in. Sophomore catcher Blake Ford also had a pair of hits. He scored a run and drove in a run. Freshman pitcher/infielder Jake Lufft hit a solo home run. Freshman infielder Brett Holden also drove in a run.
Bexten pitched seven and two-thirds innings. He gave up four runs on six hits and struck out two to earn the victory. Morrow pitched two-thirds of an inning to earn the save.
"Garrett did a great job for us in the ninth inning," said Kindle. "He had to face two of the better hitters in our Region. What an amazing performance."
May 10 Mineral Area College at Joplin, Missouri
The third-seeded SFCC Roadrunners found themselves in the Championship round of the NJCAA Region 16 Division I Baseball Tournament for the first time since the resumption of program with an 11-10 victory over the fourth-seeded Mineral Area College Cardinals from Park Hills, Missouri at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Missouri. The teams were locked in a back-and-forth battle until the bottom of the 13th inning when Lufft delivered a walkoff single to score freshman outfielder Brice Pannier with the winning run.
SFCC scored single runs in the first two innings. The Cardinals scored one run in the top of the third inning. SFCC scored a single run in the bottom of the fourth. Mineral Area scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning. SFCC answered with five runs in the bottom the sixth inning. Mineral tacked on three runs the top the seventh. Both teams scored a pair of runs in the 11th inning to set up the heroics in the bottom of the 13th.
Lufft led SFCC offensively with two hits, including a home run, a run scored and four runs batted in. Sophomore infielder Kyle Clark had three hits, including a double and a run batted in. Sophomore outfielder Hayden Bradford registered pair of hits, including a double to tie the game in the 11th inning. He also scored a run and drove in three. Ford had a pair of hits and a run scored. Sophomore outfielder Brady Holden scored four runs on a pair of hits. He walked three times. Pannier scored three runs and walked three times. Freshman infielder Brett Holden had a pair of hits, scored a run and drove in two.
Sophomore pitcher Bill Cain got the start on the mound for SFCC. He pitched four and one-third innings. He allowed four runs; three earned on four hits and struck out four. The Roadrunners got some outstanding relief work from sophomore pitcher Jack Schmedding. He pitched six and two-thirds innings. He allowed five runs; four earned and struck out seven. Freshman pitcher Austin Brooks picked up the win in relief. He tossed two innings and struck out two.
"It was a back-and-forth battle between two really good teams who were playing really well at that time," said Kindle. "It was probably one of the best games that I've ever been a part of. We got down twice, but our guys just kept fighting. It was a great game."
May 11 Crowder College at Joplin, Missouri
SFCC took on Crowder College from Neosho, Missouri in the first game of the Championship round of the NJCAA Region 16 Division I Baseball Tournament on Saturday afternoon May 11; the games were moved to Warren Turner Field on the Missouri Southern State University campus in Joplin because of rain. This was the second time the teams matched up during the Tournament. Crowder forced the "if necessary game" with a 9-4 victory.
"In the first game, Crowder hit the ball very well," said Kindle. "We could not match them offensively. Their starting pitcher threw extremely well."
The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when the Roughriders scored five runs. SFCC responded with a single tally in the bottom of the inning. Crowder tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 7-1 lead. SFCC fought back with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. The Roughriders answered with two in the top of the eighth to put the game away.
Lufft continued his good tournament at the plate with a pair of doubles, two runs batted in and a run scored. Clark had a pair of hits, including a double. Freshman infielder Brett Holden recorded a pair of hits, including a double and he also scored a pair of runs. Sophomore infielder Gavin Jones drove in a run in the game.
Sophomore pitcher Conner Burnett got the start on the mound for SFCC. He pitched five and one-third innings and allowed seven runs on nine hits. Burnett struck out five and walked one. He was given the pitching loss.
Crowder defeated SFCC 2-1 in the "if necessary game," to claim the NJCAA Region 16 Division I Baseball Tournament Championship. SFCC ended its season 35-21. The 35 victories is a program record for victories in a season since the resumption of the program.
"In the last game, I thought our guys played really good baseball," said Kindle. "We just couldn't get the big hit. We had plenty of opportunities."
Lufft registered two more hits for SFCC. Sophomore outfielder Brady Holden had two hits in his final game as a Roadrunner and he also scored a run. Jones had a hit in his final game at SFCC. Freshman infielder Drew Perez also had a hit. Freshman infielder Brett Holden also contributed a hit for SFCC.
Freshman pitcher Matt Perego got the start on the mound for SFCC. He pitched five innings and allowed six hits. He struck out two. Morrow pitched two and one-third innings. He gave up one run on two hits and struck out two. He was given the pitching loss.
"I was proud of the way our team played all year," said Kindle. "We were one game away from accomplishing our goal. Our sophomore class will be really tough to replace."