Pair of five-run innings jump-starts Chipola’s win

Chipola’s Jose Caballero smiles Saturday as he watches his three-run home run leave Suplizio Field in the second inning of the Indians’ 13-4 victory over Crowder in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Chipola’s Evan Steele didn’t have his best stuff Saturday, but the sophomore battled, allowing four runs on five hits in six innings as the Indians defeated Crowder 13-4 at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series at Suplizio Field.


Coach’s view

“We had way too many free bases. We threw to third base twice with no chance to get anybody out and gave up some runs there. They had the bases loaded there and runners in scoring position and had some people line out, so the baseball gods were on our side a little bit today.” — Chipola coach Jeff Johnson on the Indians’ defensive struggles.

Once Chipola College (Florida) got rolling Saturday afternoon, there was no stopping it.

The Indians used two five-run rallies and a pair of long home runs to defeat Crowder College (Missouri) 13-4 in seven innings during the third game of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series at Suplizio Field.

Chipola coach Jeff Johnson said his team shook off some rust following a 2 1/2-week layoff after winning the Gulf District tournament.

“I didn’t think we played very well defensively,” Johnson said of the Indians, who committed three errors. “We showed we had been off for 17 days with base running and defensively. (Starting pitcher) Evan (Steele) didn’t have his best stuff today, but he battled and gave us a quality start out there. That’s what we tell our guys all the time — the great pitchers can pitch when you don’t have your good stuff. I think he battled and got us six good innings there and offensively we got some great two-out hits.”

Steele scattered five hits and allowed four runs — two earned — over six innings. He struck out five and walked three.

The top-ranked Indians (46-8, 1-0 JUCO) and the No. 3 Roughriders (52-13, 0-1) had a back-and-forth battle early, despite a big surge from Chipola in the second inning.

Down 2-0, the Indians roared back with a pair of two-out hits. With the bases-loaded Edmond Americaan laced a two-run single through the left side, then Jose Caballero launched a three-run home run that sailed over the batter’s eye in center field.

Despite the Indians’ outburst, Crowder cut into the lead in the top of the third, scoring on an air-mailed throw from the outfield and a sacrifice fly. Chipola added another run in the bottom of the third to go up 6-4 and the fourth inning was quiet, but things went sideways for the Roughriders in the fifth.

The Indians started the five-run inning with Max Guzman sliding around a tag at the plate. Back-to-back singles brought in two more runs and a fly ball to the warning track brought in an additional two runs.

Chipola tacked on two more runs in the sixth on a two-run home run from Trey Dawson, and Andrew Grogan pitched a nearly perfect seventh to end the game early.

“Americaan’s hit there in the second was huge and then Caballero’s home run relaxed us a little bit and got our bats going like they needed to be going,” Johnson said. “We’ve gotten down by runs, multiple runs early and it seems like it kinda jump-started us a little bit instead of us falling back and letting the pressure and anxiety get to us. So, I’m proud of the way the guys battled back like that.”

Dawson echoed his coach, saying the Indians feel right at home in a hard-fought game.

“We don’t panic when we get down early in the game,” Dawson said. “We stay relaxed, just like we did today. We had Evan on the mound, probably one of our best pitchers. We weren’t worried at all. Just have to stay focused.”

As the game played out, Crowder starting pitcher Zach Johnson stayed in as the score grew increasingly lopsided. He ultimately surrendered 13 runs — only eight earned — on 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said he made a calculated decision to leave Jackson on mound in an effort to save arms for later in the tournament.

“At that point, going into the sixth inning, we had a decision to make,” Lallemand said. “If we didn’t score any runs in that inning we gotta think about how we have a chance to get back into the tournament and we’d have to conserve arms. When I took him out, I told him ‘I hope you don’t feel like I left you out here to dry. You took one for us here and hopefully we can save your arm and get back out here tomorrow and hopefully extend our season.’ “

The Roughriders had six hits, two by Elvis Peralta. The sophomore had a double and was 2 for 4 with a run scored.


Chipola 13, Crowder 4

up next: Chipola vs. San Jacinto, 2 p.m., Monday
Crowder vs. Dyersburg State, 2 p.m., today


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