By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. —
Oh, so close.
Northern Oklahoma College Enid left runners on third four times in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to defending national runner-up Western Oklahoma, in an elimination game at the NJCAA Region 2 Baseball Championships Saturday.
The loss ended the Jets’ season at 17-39.
Both of Western’s runs came on wild pitches.
Neither team committed an error and both teams had seven hits. Braden Martin had three hits for the Jets, including an RBI triple in the seventh.
“Games like that are fun to be part of,’’ said NOC Enid coach Scott Mansfield. “Our guys played their hearts out.’’
The Jets scored their lone run in the seventh. Lead-off hitter Haden Johnson singled, was sacrificed to second by Dylan Walker and scored on a one-out triple by Martin.
Martin was stranded at third after Pioneers starter Martin Nolasco struck out Dyce Applegate and got Russ Colgan to line out
to left fielder Randy Rodriguez.
“We had our opportunities to score some runs,’’ Mansfield said. “We hit the ball hard, but right at them. We just didn’t get the ball to go our way to take the lead.’’
The Jets threatened again in the eighth.
Aaron McCandless walked, was sacrificed to second by Korbin Polston and went to third on a ground out by Chase Knott. A.J. Wilson grounded out to end the inning.
NOC Enid left runners on third in the first and fifth.
McCandless reached third in the first after singling and a single by Polston and a fielder’s choice by Knott. Wilson forced Knott at second to end the inning.
In the fifth, Martin reached third with two outs after singling, a sacrifice by Applegate and a Colgan ground out. McCandless grounded out to end the inning.
NOC Enid pitchers Austin Hannum and Hayden James kept the Jets in the game.
Hannum, in 42⁄3 innings, gave up four hits and two runs while walking five and striking out one. James threw 31⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, striking out four and walking one.
“They attacked the zone and kept them off balance,’’ Mansfield said. “We had a game plan and they stuck to it. They gave us an opportunity to win.”
Western took a 1-0 lead in the second when Casey Coyle singled and scored after a walk, a sacrifice and a wild pitch. They added another run in the fifth when Sicnarf Loopstok walked and scored after a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch.
“We told the guys we wanted them to play hard for nine innings and that’s what we did,’’ Mansfield said. “That’s all you can ask for. We were proud of how hard they played.’’
The Jets, 10-35 at one point of the season, won seven of their last 11 games.
“We learned a lot as a team,’’ Mansfield said. “We came together as a team and played well with each other. We played our best baseball at the end of the season which is what you want to do.’’
Knott and James were the lone true sophomores who played in Saturday’s game.
“We were a young team,’’ Mansfield said. “We’re excited about next year and the promise that we have.’’