COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The Cloud County Community College baseball team wrapped up a five-game stretch against non-conference opponents on Tuesday, falling 13-6 in nine innings in what was a tough road test against No. 16 ranked Iowa Western Community College.
"We were both planning on using a lot of pitching. Iowa Western was just able to get zeroes when it needed them," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "It's a little disappointing that we didn't play that well all the way around, but we were still able to hang in there with a very good team through the middle innings."
It was a typical midweek, bullpen day for the two clubs as the T-Birds (20-16 overall, 12-8 KJCCC) and Reivers (26-5 overall) cycled in a combined 13 different pitches.
Cloud County had bright spots on each side of the ball, but ultimately it was a few miscues and struggles to get a shutdown inning that provided the difference.
"We made too many mistakes to beat a really good team," Gilliland said. "We had chances to take leads and get back in the game, but couldn't get a big stop when we needed it. They (Reivers) have a big, physical offense."
Cloud County rallied back from a 4-0 hole through four innings by striking for two in the top of the fifth on a RBI triple from freshman Ed Scott, who then scored one batter later on a passed ball.
After Iowa Western answered back with three in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 7-2 lead, the T-Birds inched all the way back to within a run with a four-spot in the sixth.
Sophomore catcher Tucker Catlett drove in the first run of the inning on a hit-by-pitch. Fellow sophomore Ryan Simons then followed with a one-out, two-run double before Matt Bondarchuk capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to score Catlett.
Unfortunately for the T-Birds, the Reivers were able to respond back with three runs in the home-half of the inning to halt Cloud County's momentum.
Sophomore right-hander Koby Spicer pitched a clean two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout, and freshman Jacob Dauer finished with 1.2 clean innings of work to highlight Cloud County's arms on Tuesday.
"You hope it sharpens you up a little bit to face good pitching and good hitting," said Gilliland when asked about the takeaways from the matchup against the three-time national championship winning Reivers. "You know you can't get away with mistakes and you hope it raises your level of play heading into the weekend."
Cloud County is set to resume KJCCC West action at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Thursday when it hosts Butler Community College at Lee Doyen Field.
"Butler is a good team sitting in second place in the KJCCC West standings," Gilliland said. "But I feel like, if we get back to playing well like we did the month of March, we can be right there with them."