Bucs use two huge innings to sail past Reivers
The Shelton State (Ala.) Community College baseball team has developed a trend this season.
“We seem to take a couple of innings off,” Buccaneers coach Bobby Sprowl said.
Fortunately for the team, they seem to figure out how to string hits together, too.
Shelton State used two big innings to push past Iowa Western Community College 16-6 in six innings in Saturday’s first round of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
“Once someone gets a big hit, it’s contagious,” Buccaneers catcher Matt Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood was one of the instigators. He had three hits, including a solo home run that got Shelton State on the board in the second inning.
It took a while for the Buccaneers to get to Iowa Western starting pitcher Mike Strong.
“It could have been jitters,” Kirkwood said.
His teammate, David Kindred, took another approach.
“It’s just going out there doing what you’ve been doing all year,” said Kindred, who also had three hits, including two doubles, and three runs batted in.
“We were fortunate to get the big hit with guys on,” Sprowl said.
Five of Shelton State’s 15 hits went for extra bases.
Trailing 3-1, the Buccanneers (43-16) scored six times in the bottom of the fourth inning, taking advantage of five hits, including a two-run double by Kindred, and two Reivers errors on one play.
To that point, Mike Strong had given up only the one run on Kirkwood’s home run.
“Fortunately we were able to get on him and get to the bullpen quick,” Kindred said.
Shelton State won by the run rule with a seven-run sixth inning.
The Buccanneers’ two pitchers, starter Josh Wirnsberger and reliever Michael Carden, did just enough to keep the Reivers off balance most of the afternoon.
“I thought our two pitchers did a good job without their best stuff,” Sprowl said of their combined eight-hit effort. Wirnsberger and Carden issued only three total walks.
Saturday’s game marked Shelton State’s third victory over Iowa Western in three JUCO World Series meetings.
“Every game’s been pretty close,” Sprowl said, knowing this one was closer than the 10-run margin indicated.
The Buccaneers got past the first-game tournament jitters in good shape.
“You’ve got to win that first game,” Kirkwood said. “The first one is always the toughest.”
In reality, they probably won’t get much easier.
The Buccaneers face No. 1-ranked Howard (Texas) College in Monday night’s fireworks game at 7:30.