Walk this way
Walks help Cowley get first JUCO win since 2009
It was a little unorthodox, but Cowley College (Kansas) picked up its first win at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series since 2009 on Saturday morning.
Three bases-loaded walks and a miscommunication in the outfield leading to three more runs lifted the Tigers to a 13-5 win in eight innings over Wallace Community College-Dothan (Alabama) at Suplizio Field.
Cowley (44-16, 1-0 JUCO) had only 10 hits, but also drew nine walks against Wallace-Dothan (42-20, 0-1).
That’s good enough for Tigers coach Dave Burroughs.
“That’s our game plan, really,” Burroughs said. “We’re all about getting to first base. We’ve done it all year long and we’ve done it really well. We’ve scored a lot of runs. It’s not just the fact that we only got 10 hits, it’s that you’ve walked seven or eight times. In our book, that’s 17 or 18 hits.”
The late traffic on the base paths allowed the Tigers to rebound from a surge by the Governors. Wallace-Dothan, down 4-0 entering the top of the seventh, got on the board with a solo home run from Tyler Halas. Cowley responded with two-run triple from Jacob Means and an RBI single from Connor Litton that pushed its lead to 7-1.
Donnie Gleneski’s solo home run to start the top of the eighth sparked a four-run rally for the Governors. An error allowed the second run of the inning to score, then a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch cut the Tigers’ advantage to 7-4.
But in the bottom of the eighth, things unraveled for the Governors, with multiple walks and the game-ending, bases-clearing hit. The fly ball was ruled a single, but the left fielder and center fielder miscommunicated calling for the ball before it fell between them.
It was a rough finish to an otherwise solid game, said Wallace-Dothan coach Mackey Sasser.
“I thought we did a good job, later in the game, to fight back to get where we needed to get,” Sasser said. “Guys I usually rely on out of the bullpen, they come in and walked in three and we had a miscommunication in the outfield and it’s game over.”
A steady wind blowing out turned an early pitcher’s duel into an offense’s paradise, as back-to-back home runs gave the Tigers their early lead.
Kea’von Edwards launched a three-run home run to open the scoring and Ross Messina followed with a solo home run, both easily clearing the fence.
Edwards said the Tigers started touching up Governors starting pitcher Philip Sieli in the third inning, and momentum built from there.
“The first at-bat where I K’d, he had been working me with a breaking ball on the outside,” Edwards said. “So, if anything, I was trying to look outside. Happened to get the bat head out front and the wind took care of the rest.
“He left something up on the outer third and I just had to take care of it.”
The early offense backed a strong outing from Cowley starter Garrett Hutson, who scattered seven hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and only one walk. Two of the four runs in the eighth were credited to Hutson before he was pulled, but the sophomore right-hander said he settled in quickly and leaned on his teammates. There’s also the added bonus of experience. Cowley qualified for JUCO last year, losing twice.
“It’s an amazing feeling, especially from playing in it last year,” Hutson said. “This group is a special group and we’re real close, so it means a lot to be with this team this year.
“I never really felt like I was out of rhythm, from the beginning of the game. It was a little stressful when it was still tied and you could tell, once we scored, that I loosened up a bit and started to throw my off-speed, finally, for strikes.”