CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College baseball team experienced each end of the spectrum Thursday in its doubleheader against Seward County Community College, earning a split against the visiting Saints after a 5-2 walk-off victory in Game One and 14-0 loss in Game Two.
"I think the emotions of Game One — we had that really emotional high — we were definitely flat in Game Two," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "I'll take some responsibility for that for not being able to find a way for us to be more engaged at the start of that game."
Sophomore first baseman Ryan Krolikowski played hero in the series opener as he hammered a three-run, walk-off home run to deep left-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Krolikowski entered the day red hot at the plate after going 9-of-16 last week and riding a six-game hitting streak. He extended it to seven games after finishing Game One on Thursday 2-for-5 with 4 RBI. The walk-off home run was Krolikowski's second of the season as he walked-off Northeast Community College with another three-run shot back on Feb. 17.
"The guy is incredibly consistent," Gilliland said of Krolikowski. "He's never too high or too low. He goes about his business the right way and he came up really big for us."
Krolikowski's blast put the exclamation point on the come-from-behind win for the T-Birds (12-13 overall, 7-7 KJCCC), who trailed 2-0 through the first two innings before sophomore left-hander Erik Sabrowski settled in.
Sabrowski blanked Seward County (16-14 overall, 4-6 KJCCC) over his final six innings of work, finishing with a line of 8 innings, 8 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts on 111 pitches.
"You kind of had that feeling that once Erik settled in, we were going to score at some point," Gilliland said. "He started making more quality pitches, not living in the middle of the plate, and he sharpened up as the game went along."
Krolikowski got Cloud County on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI single that brought home sophomore outfielder Matt Bondarchuk.
Bondarchuk, who was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in Game One, ignited Cloud County's rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with a leadoff triple down the right-field line. He came around to score the tying run one batter later on a RBI single by Sabrowski.
Redshirt freshman Neil Sudbeck tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the T-Birds to pick up his second win of the season, setting the stage for the fireworks in the home-half of the inning.
Sophomore outfielder Trae McDaniel led off with a sharp single up the middle, and Sabrowski received a one-out intentional walk prior to Krolikowski's heroics.
Unfortunately, the T-Birds were unable to refocus and feed off the momentum in Game Two as Seward County jumped out to a 6-0 lead through three innings and used five home runs to put the game away early.
The T-Birds and Saints will wrap up their four-game series on Saturday in Liberal, Kansas. Game times are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
"We're going to have to play well (Saturday). We've showed we're a very capable team when we field the ball well, make quality pitches, and put together unselfish at-bats," Gilliland said. "Seward County is a good, quality team and has shown it is capable of beating anybody."