By Lee Coleman, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
As the junior college baseball season heads down the stretch run, Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets split an important Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader with Redlands Community College Tuesday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
The Cougars (30-9, 5-3) won the opening game 4-1. Freshman lefthander Shawn Hunter had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning to lead the Jets (28-15, 3-5) to a 7-1 victory in the nightcap.
Hunter allowed only three hits while striking out four in going the distance, improving his record to 5-2. Eric Smith took the loss for Redlands.
“He did a great job for us,’’Jets coach Raydon Leaton said.
Kale Thaxton broke up Hunter’s no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth.Thaxton hit the first pitch he saw into right center field, breaking up the no-hitter.
Hunter lost the shutout when Thaxton went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Michal Ondraeck.
Leaton said Hunter’s pitching performance was big after the Jets struggled in game one.
“Sometimes, when your offense struggles like we did in game one, you put it on your pitcher to go out and keep us in the game while we chip away at them,” Leaton said. “We had some good at-bats and got back to doing what we do.
“Shawn was throwing his pitches for strikes and he competes and does a good job. We rely on him a lot.”
The Jets took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning when Brandon Ruiz doubled and came home on a throwing error.
The bats continued to swing in the third frame when NOC Enid plated three runs on three hits and another Cougar error to go up 4-0.
J.R. Head got things going with a walk. Chris Faulkner singled to center field and Dusty Harper, who went hitless in the first game, singled home Head.
Logan Bradley sacrificed the runners to second and third, and a fielder’s choice by Ruiz followed by a Tyler Walker single staked Hunter to a 4-0 cushion.
As Hunter continued to mow through the Redlands’ lineup, the Jets stayed the course and added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Head, who went 3-for-3 with a walk, singled to open the fourth frame and came home on Harper’s second hit and RBI of the game.
Two more runs in the fifth and sixth was all Hunter would need in closing out the 7-1 victory.
Leaton said the nightcap win puts the Jets back in the conference chase with reigning JUCO Division II national champion Western Oklahoma State College coming to Enid Thursday for two games. Western is 6-2 in conference play.
“We started conference play 0-4 and now we’re 3-5,” he said. “We keep chipping away, and with Western coming in on Thursday, we have a chance to close in on some of the teams in front of us.
“Every game is big for us. Every conference game is big. We’re going to go out and compete and take care of ourselves.”
Retuning to Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference action on Tuesday, the Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets (27-15, 2-5) dropped the first game of a doubleheader 4-1 to Redlands Community Collge (30-8, 5-2).
REDLANDS 4, NOC ENID 1
Redlands’ Tyler Lago threw a three-hitter in shutting down the Jets’ offense. He struck out three and walked two.
“It feels good to get that win,’’ Redlands coach Matt Newgent said. “NOC is always solid and it is always a battle, so we’re happy to come in and get the first one.
“When you can fill up the strike zone like Tyler (Lago) did today, it makes coaching easy. Other than one hiccup in the third, we played pretty well.’’
Zac Postoak took the loss for the Jets.
The Cougars came out of the blocks and took a 3-0 edge after two innings. Kameron Kopczyski singled in a run in the first. Thaxton had an RBI single and Petr Sila drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 in the second.
The Jets scored their lone run in the third. Tanner Cruts led off with a single, but was picked off base in a rundown between second and first for the first out. David Menger and Kyle Callahan followed with singles. After Head struck out, Ruiz hit a sharp ground ball to first that got under the glove of Kopczynski for an error, allowing Menger to score.
Redlands added an insurance run in the sixth. Sam Moon led off with a single and scored after a single by Kopczynski, a sacrifice by Chris Lane and a sacrifice fly by Peter Rodriguez.