CONCORDIA, Kansas — Momentum is fickle. It can be as easy to lose as it is hard to stop. And unfortunately for the Cloud County Community College baseball team, the T-Birds were unable to harness it Friday in a pair of losses, 9-3 and 13-2, to No. 17 ranked Barton Community College.
Cloud County (25-21 overall, 15-13 KJCCC), which split Thursday's doubleheader against Barton in Great Bend, scored first in each game Friday. But the leads were short lived as the KJCCC West leading Cougars (38-10 overall, 21-7 KJCCC) owned the middle innings.
"We scored first in both games today, which is always important to our success. But, for whatever reason, one thing led to another and things snowballed on us all day," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland.
In Game One, freshman right-hander Austen Seidel cruised through the first three innings, allowing just one run and two hits while his offense staked the T-Birds to a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore third baseman Tauren Langley drove a long RBI single off the wall in left and fellow sophomore Dario DeSantis smashed a run-scoring double down the left-field line to give Cloud County and early 2-0 advantage.
They added a third run in the bottom of the second on a triple down the right-field line by sophomore leadoff man Ryan Simons.
Momentum shifted in the fourth and fifth innings, though, as Barton scored four runs in each frame, aided by three balk calls, two errors, and a parade of soft-contact singles through the hole between third base and shortstop.
"I thought Austen had pretty good stuff (Friday), but Barton found a lot of holes against him," Gilliland said. "You just have to tip your cap to Barton because it is a heck of a team with great hitters and starting pitchers who were able to get the outs they needed."
The script was similar in Game Two as the T-Birds again took the early lead, this time on a RBI groundout from sophomore Ryan Krolikowski in the bottom of the first inning.
Cloud County freshman Chris Koehler limited Barton to one hit through the game's first two innings before the tide turned in the form of a five-run third inning.
The Cougars would add insurance runs in each of the next four innings, while the T-Birds were limited to just one more run; an RBI single off the bat of sophomore Tucker Catlett in the bottom of the sixth.
Cloud County will look to shake off Friday's games and prepare for its final four-game series of the regular season next week against Dodge City.
As of Friday evening, the T-Birds are in fifth in the KJCCC West standings, but are just a 1.5 games out of third place.
The top-four in the standings will host a first-round Region VI playoff series and that's the motivation Gilliland said his team will use when they begin their series against the Conquistadors at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Concordia.
"We still have a chance to host a home Region VI playoff series and that's kind of been the goal in my mind for a long time," Gilliland said. "We can't let one game or day define us, as ugly as it was. We can't let it define us and we have to move on because we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We need to start focusing on Dodge City."
NOTES: Prior to Game Four of the series, Cloud County Community College honored two baseball alumnus, Jim Dunning and Zach Hamel, for their vital contributions toward the new on-campus, indoor training facility. The duo each threw out a ceremonial first pitch and will share the naming rights of the Dunning-Hamel Baseball Training Facility.