By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Tanner Crutts was the only Northern Oklahoma College Enid starter not to reach base in an 8-3 win over Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College in the first game of a junior college baseball doubleheader at David Allen Memorial Ballpark Monday.
He made up for it in the second game.
Crutts hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the fourth and had a two-RBI double in the fifth to account for all the runs in come-from-behind 6-5 NOC Enid victory, which now has won eight games in a row.
“I was struggling the first game, but I got good pitches to hit (the second) and I came through,’’ Crutts said. “It’s been a long time since I did something like that.’’
Crutts’ heroics were a bit historic since it gave the program its 400th win under coach Raydon Leaton, who started the program 12 years ago.
“I’m happy to come through for him,’’ Crutts said.
“For the program to have 400 wins is something special,’’ Leaton said. “I guarantee you that everyone who has been here since 2001 will know they were a part of that stepping stone to get there and they hold a lot of pride in that.’’
Leaton took pride in how Crutts bounced back from his first-game struggles.
“Everybody goes 0-for-3 sometime,’’ he said. “It’s how you handle it whether or not you’re going to be successful, and he handled it real well.’’
Crutts was inserted into the game with the Jets down 4-0 in the fourth after lefthander Michael Amador was called in from the bullpen.
Crutts took the sidewinder over the left field wall on a 1-1 pitch with the bases loaded.
“I just got a good pitch and I pulled it over,’’ he said. “I was just trying to get the first run in by either hitting to the opposite field or getting a deep ball.’’
Kirkwood took a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Dairo Gonzalez drove in Alan Timmerman, who had doubled.
Logan Bradley opened the Jets fifth with a double and went to third on an infield single by Brandon Ruiz, Crutts hit a shot to right center that right fielder Ian Czarneski unsuccessfully dove for to drive in two runs.
“I got an outside fastball and I was able to put a barrel on it,’’ Crutts said.
Jonathan Johnson was the winning pitcher, allowing eight hits and five runs over five innings. Matt Decker and Travis Lance combined for two scoreless innings.
Neil Madsen had a solo homer for the Eagles, while Jean Carlos Rodriguez and Gonzalez both had two RBI.
The Jets had 10 hits in the opener, including a three-run homer by Christian Faulkner in a five-run fourth and a solo shot by J.R. Head in the seventh. Head was 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
“He just left it over the plate, and I took advantage of it,’’ said Faulkner about his home run. “It was a good feeling. We’re on a roll now, and we’re making a lot of progress.’’
“I got a good pitch, and I put a good swing on it,’’ Head said. “It was a good hitting day, but we have to keep working hard to keep the streak going.’’
Davis Bradley was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Logan Glasgow and Logan Bradley had RBI singles. Brandon Ruiz scored twice.
Justin Sheets went the distance to pick up the win. He allowed five hits, including solo home runs by Stephen Yohay and Timmerman. He struck out three and walked two.
“Today was the best weather day that we have had,’’ Leaton said. “It was a good day to hit, and we competed well. We were down in all three games (including Sunday’s 6-2 win) but we scratched and clawed and found a way to get back in.’’
The Jets (16-6) will host Pratt, Kan., in a 3 p.m. doubleheader today at David Allen. Shawn Hunter and Mitchell Bro are scheduled to pitch for NOC Enid.