ENID — For the second time in as many days, Pasco-Hernando State College pulled off an upset victory by defeating fourth-seeded Northern Oklahoma College Enid, 12-11, in 10 innings.
With their win over the Jets, the Bobcats not only kept their NJCAA Division II World Series run alive, but also dealt NOC Enid its first loss of the tournament. Now, Pasco-Hernando and NOC Enid will play a Game 2 elimination game Thursday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship round.
“When you give them opportunities, they’ve taken advantage of them,” NOC Enid head coach Raydon Leaton said of Pasco-Hernando. “When we gave them opportunities, they took advantage of it and found a way to win.”
The middle of NOC Enid's batting order — sophomores EJ Taylor, Tanner Neely, Dylan Caplinger and freshman Alec Buonasera — went a combined 2 for 16 with two RBI.
“Those guys are better hitters than that and (we) had a chance to win,” Leaton said. “Just couldn’t get it done.” The two teams combined for 33 hits.
The Jets' best chance to win came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Down by two runs, sophomore D.J. Calvert hit a game-tying two-run double to left with nobody out and advanced to third after the Pasco-Hernando outfielder let the ball bounce behind him. However with the game-winning run just 90 feet away and no outs, Taylor, Neely and Buonasera were retired in order, leaving Calvert stranded. The Jets left 12 runners on base.
The Bobcats offense took advantage of its opportunities, beginning with freshman starter Connor Priest, who allowed four runs off four hits in the first inning
After NOC Enid held a 7-6 lead, Pasco-Hernando put two men on base in the top of the fifth. The Bobcats recorded back-to-back RBI to retake the lead.
In the top of the ninth, NOC Enid needed one more out to hold Pasco-Hernando’s lead to a run. With a man on first, a passed ball allowed Connor Berry to advance to second. Then, Ryan Glass brought Berry home with an RBI single to left and extended Pasco-Hernando’s lead to two runs.
In the top of the 10th inning and with the game tied, 10-10, the Bobcats put two men on base, but Jets had a chance to record the final out on a pop-fly from Anthony Cassos. But sophomore outfielder Seth Graves appeared to lose the ball in the sunlight while trying to make the catch and it fell beside him, allowing two runs to score.
Cassos, who went 2 for 6, drove in the game-winning runs for the second game in a row.
Sophomore Garrett Misenheimer pulled NOC Enid to within a run thanks to an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. But Pasco-Hernando held off the Jets’ rally with a groundout from Graves.
“Just little things like that they took advantage of that we didn't whenever we were at the plate,” Leaton said.
Just like in their upset 13-12 walk-off victory over Pearl River on Tuesday, the Bobcats relied on an active rotation on the mound to hold their opponent at bay. It’s a pitching plan the program adopted for the second half of the season — rotate pitchers and “ride the guy that’s hot.”
“We have plenty of guys who can throw,” Pasco-Hernando head coach Lyndon Coleman said.
The Bobcats saw one of their relief pitchers — Sam Prince — throw six innings, which was the second-longest outing for a Bobcat this tournament.
In his first appearance of the World Series, Prince kept the damage from NOC Enid’s offense to a minimum. He came in after starter Kyle Khachadourian and Andrew Karch allowed a combined six runs off five hits.
After holding a 6-0 lead through two innings, Pasco-Hernando saw its lead disappear just as quickly as it appeared. NOC Enid used the second and third innings to score a combined seven runs. With the bases loaded in the top of the second, Calvert hit an RBI single to score the first run and keep three men on base. Taylor’s walk and Neely’s sacrifice fly drove in two more runs.
The next inning, sophomore outfielder Brendon Wolfle hit a two-run single and Graves hit an RBI double to tie the game. A passed ball allowed Woelfle to score the go-ahead run and give NOC Enid it’s only lead of the game, 7-6.
Prince allowed three earned runs (four total) off eight hits but a majority of the runs were scored in the third inning. Prince helped keep NOC Enid scoreless the next four innings. Coleman said Prince proved himself this tournament after struggling all year. The former 10-game winner lost his starting role and his bullpen spot but remained ready for his next chance.
“It was great to see him step up,” Coleman said. “I’m proud of that kid.”
Freshman Stevie Owings threw the final six innings for NOC Enid, allowing five runs off nine hits in his appearance.
The Jets are no strangers to an elimination game. After losing to Carl Albert State in the Region II tournament earlier this month, NOC Enid won four-straight elimination games to get to the World Series.
“We’re going to get it done,” Calvert said. “Everyone pulling on the same rope and we’re going to get it done. That’s how we’re going to do it.”
“We got a veteran ball club, we got good kids who like to compete,” Leaton said. “We’ll be ready to go.”