CONCORDIA, Kansas — Staring at a potential disappointing split, the Cloud County Community College baseball team rallied from a seven-run deficit in Game Two of Thursday's doubleheader against Butler Community College to steal a 14-11 victory and complete the improbable sweep.
With the pair of wins, Cloud County (22-16 overall, 14-8 KJCCC) leapfrogged Butler (24-15, 16-10 KJCCC) to take over second place in the KJCCC West standings before the two teams resume the four-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday in El Dorado.
"Just an outstanding effort; it wasn't pretty at all," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland of Game Two. "But I told the guys, 'Sometimes you have to win a wild one.' And I don't know how else you describe that game. It was fun to watch and be a part of."
The T-Birds trailed 10-3 after the top of the fifth and at one point were being outhit by the visiting Grizzlies, 14-7.
The oddness of Game Two continued on into the home-half of the fifth when sophomore Erik Sabrowski laced a double off the wall in left-center with two runners on and no one out. A late jump by the Cloud County runners didn't allow either to score as both were tagged out at the plate within strides of each other by Butler catcher Alex Brough. Cloud County was left to settle for one that inning, cutting the deficit to 10-4.
Cloud County inched closer with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-run single by freshman outfielder Ed Scott, then stormed back to take its first lead of the game with an eight-run eighth inning.
Sophomore catcher Tucker Catlett led off the inning with his third home run of the season. Three batters later, after a single by Aidan Huggins and pinch-hit double by Kade Wallace, Scott drove two more runners in with a single to make it a 10-9 game.
The T-Birds stayed relentless as they took the lead on a two-run single by sophomore Ryan Krolikowski before capping the inning off with a monster, 3-run home run off the bat of Tauren Langley to make it a 14-10 lead.
For Langley, who finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and five RBI, the blast was his second home run of the game — sixth of the season — and his first home runs since Feb. 18.
"We've kind of been seeing (Langley breaking out) coming for a while," Gilliland said. "He's starting to get healthier. His swings have been better, but he hadn't been getting hits out of it. (Thursday) he was pretty dialed in from the moment he got here."
While the offense dominated the eighth inning, the effort from Cloud County's bullpen helped make the comeback possible as Koby Spicer, Corben Peters, Jordan Alexander and Jacob Uhing combined for 6.2 innings of work, limiting Butler to three runs on six hits.
Alexander picked up the win with a scoreless eighth inning and gave way to Uhing in the ninth, who slammed the door for his third save of the season by inducing a 4-6-3 double play and a soft grounder back to the mound.
"The bullpen came in and did an awesome job," Gilliland said. "We've been needing that and they all came in, passed the baton, and did a very good job for us."
Cloud County's come-from-behind win in Game Two overshadowed a dominating 5-0 win in Game One behind another fantastic start by Sabrowski.
Sabrowski (6-1 overall) earned his second complete-game shutout of the season, tying the school record for shutouts in a season and in a career shared by Jay Griffiths, Chris Cronin and Brian Warner.
The left-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and limited Butler to just three base runners (two hits and a walk) while striking out 14.
"Sabrowski was as good as he's been all year," Gilliland said. "It was a good all-around day at the plate and we seem to play well when Erik pitches. We've done well behind him and I can't say enough good things about him."
Sabrowski was also 2-for-2 at the plate in Game One, tying sophomore Matt Bondarchuk to lead all hitters.
Offensively, Cloud County did its damage in the third and fourth innings as it scored two runs and three runs, respectively.
Krolikowski drove in a run with an RBI walk to begin the scoring and Langley added a sacrifice fly in the third. Then in the fourth, Scott scored on a passed ball and the T-Birds added two more runs on an errant pick-off throw by Butler's pitcher to make it 5-0.
The T-Birds will look to earn their fourth straight KJCCC series victory Sunday when the two KJCCC foes resume play. Game times are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in El Dorado.
"It's going to be a whole new day and we're going to get everything (Butler) has," Gilliland said. "It's going to be a battle. We need to play a little cleaner than we did (Thursday), but we'll compete and see what happens."