CONCORDIA – Playing in what has now become their final games in the month of March, the Cloud County Community College baseball team managed to bounce back from a 6-3 defeat to down the Butler Community College Grizzlies by a final score of 11-1 in seven innings to split a doubleheader at Lee Doyen Field in Concordia on March 12.
The split moves CCCC to 14-4 overall and 3-3 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference while Butler now sits at 15-4 overall and with a 3-3 mark in the KJCCC. News would break during the second game of the doubleheader from the Jayhawk Conference that all athletic contests scheduled through April 1 have been canceled and will not be made up due to the COVID-19 pandemic as both teams will now have a minimum three-week hiatus from competition.
After allowing the first three batters of the game to safely reach base and bring home two runs, Cloud County would manage to settle in and get two strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning and limit the damage to just a 2-0 hole. The T-Birds would then put together a two-out rally after seeing each of their first two batters reach as a Griffin Larsen RBI single would score Noah Olson before a wild pitch would score Alex Rice to tie things up at 2-2 after one.
Things would go scoreless in the second before Butler would scratch across a run in the third to take a 3-2 lead as the Grizzlies would go on to plate another run in the top of the fourth to double up Cloud County 4-2. CCCC would go four straight innings without a run before a Ty Nelson leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth would allow for Clayton Loranger to hit a two-out infield single that would score the sophomore and cut the Butler lead back down to one at 4-3.
Two insurance runs would be added by the Grizzlies in the top of the seventh as the T-Birds would go hitless in the final inning of play and see Butler pull out the series-opening victory thanks in part to 10 stranded baserunners by CCCC.
Loranger and Nelson would lead Cloud County with two hits each as Nelson's double would serve as the only extra-base hit for the T-Birds. Seven walks would not make up for seven strikeouts by CCCC batters as Grizzly starter Dillan Janak would earn the win after going 5.2 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out four. Cloud County would use two pitchers in the game, with starter Josh Laukkanen going six innings strong and allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits to go along with eight strikeouts while Trey Asher threw the final inning and allowed a pair of runs on three hits.
Both offenses would be very limited in the early going of game two as Butler would manage to plate a run in the top of the second off of two hits while Cloud County would see their first run of the game come in the bottom of the third on an Olson RBI single to score Trevor Stevens. Things would remain a 1-1 contest until the bottom of the sixth when the T-Bird bats would come alive with the first five CCCC batters safely reaching base which to plate a run and load the bases with no outs. Following a Laukkanen RBI groundout, Butler would make a call to the bullpen that would initially not do much good as Ed Scott would draw a walk and Nelson would hit a sacrifice fly to score Alex Rice as part of a three-run inning for Cloud County to go up 4-1.
The Grizzlies would then be retired in order in the top of the seventh as the momentum for CCCC would prove to be in full swing with Jose Luna, Jaden Parsons, and Olson all safely reaching base with a throwing error allowing Luna and Parsons to score to make it a 6-1 game. After a strikeout, Loranger would then connect on an RBI single that would kick off five straight hits for the T-Birds to bat around the lineup and bring Luna back up who would hit a game-ending sacrifice fly to score Nelson and end the game via run-rule.
Combining to allow just three hits in the game, starter Evan Wilde (4.0 innings) and Joseph Karall (3.0 innings) would allow just the one run while striking out eight total batters and giving up two walks. Karall earned the win in relief to move to 2-1 on the year as the duo would face just seven batters over the minimum in the game.
Offensively, eight of Cloud County's nine players would record a hit with Stevens and Parsons each putting up two hits. A three-RBI day for Nelson would go along with one run scored as all nine players would score at least once as part of the 11-run outing.
With an official announcement being made by the KJCCC that all athletic events through April 1 are canceled, the earliest that Cloud County could return to action is on April 3 when they are scheduled to host Kansas City Kansas Community College at 4 p.m. Updates to the remainder of the season and all KJCCC athletic contests past April 1 along with the situation regarding COVID-19 will be made available as the situation develops.