Cloud County splits regular season home finale against Dodge City

Cloud County sophomore Ryan Simons slides home safe to score a run during Thursday's doubleheader against Dodge City
Cloud County sophomore Ryan Simons slides home safe to score a run during Thursday's doubleheader against Dodge City

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College baseball team wrapped up the home portion of its schedule on Thursday, earning a split against Dodge City Community College on Sophomore Day to begin the final series of the regular season.

Dodge City took Game One by the final score of 9-4 before the T-Birds (26-22 overall, 16-14 KJCCC), behind a five-run eighth inning, won the nightcap by a 10-6 final.

Cloud County broke open a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning, started by three straight singles from freshman Cooper Schlochtermeier, and sophomores Ryan Simons and Matt Bondarchuk in succession.

"The coolest thing about that rally was it was started by an 0-2 hit from Cooper," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "He hasn't played in about a month and we've been wanting to get him in. He had a great day at the plate and battled in that at-bat. It sparked us from there."

Freshman outfielder Ed Scott and sophomore Erik Sabrowski followed with back-to-back RBI walks to put the T-Birds in front. Cloud County would add three more runs on a wild pitch, RBI groundout from sophomore Ryan Krolikowski, and an RBI triple off the bat of redshirt freshman Aidan Huggins.

Bondarchuk and Huggins each finished 3-for-4 in Game Two, while Schlochtermeier was 2-for-3 in his start at second base.

On the mound, freshman right-hander Austen Seidel was as strong as he's been in the month of April as he went six strong innings in the no-decision. He limited a powerful Conquistadors' lineup to four runs, three earned on six hits while striking out seven.

"He's been battling injury, but he looked healthy (Thursday)," said Gilliland of Seidel. "He started the year as our No. 1 starter and has had a little bit of a rocky road. But today he got back to having his good stuff and kept battling against a really good offensive team in Dodge City. I thought he pitched very well today."

Sophomore righty Jacob Uhing picked up the baton and finished with three solid innings of work, picking up his first win of the season as he went three innings, allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out three.

"Jacob has been great for us in conference play," Gilliland said. "He gives people a little different look from sidearm and he's been throwing strikes. It's effective."

The win helped wipe away the bad taste of Game One's 9-4 loss to Dodge City in which Cloud County committed four errors and lost for the first time this season in a conference opener with Sabrowski (7-2) on the hill.

Sabrowski, a five-time KJCCC DI Pitcher of the Week winner, battled his control in the first inning but had a chance to escape a bases loaded, two-out situation without a run scored.

Unfortunately, a two-out error by the T-Birds allowed a run to come in and the next batter turned on a fastball to make it a 5-0 lead for Dodge City, all on unearned runs.

"We've kind of gotten to the point where we expect to win every time Erik pitches, but anything can happen in this game," Gilliland said. "Game One was a combination of him not being very sharp and us not fielding the baseball. But for us to come back from the disappointment of Game One, and then the start Austen gave us was fantastic, it was a gutsy Game Two win."

Bondarchuk added to his great day at the plate in Game One with a 2-for-4 and two runs scored performance atop the T-Birds' lineup. His five hits on Thursday moved him into sole possession for the most hits (141) in a career at Cloud County, topping the previous mark of 136 set by Eric Horstman in 2002-03. Bondarchuk already owns the record for most hits (84) and singles (72) in a single season.

Fellow sophomore Preston Allerheiligen provided a pinch-hit, two-run single to help pace the T-Birds offense, as well.

The T-Birds, who honored 23 second-year student-athletes between games for Sophomore Day, will head out to Dodge City on Saturday to complete the series. Cloud County would need to win both games, and have fourth-place Colby lose two against Garden City to move up into the top-four to host a first-round Region VI playoff series.

But whether or not Cloud County's sophomores will get the chance to step back on to Lee Doyen Field this season, Gilliland said his team is focused on finishing out the regular season strong and getting everyone dialed in for the Region VI playoffs set for next weekend.

"We'd sure love to host a home series. But wherever the first-round is played, it'll be a best of three series and it's a baseball field; 60-feet to home plate and 90-feet to the bases," Gilliland said. "I think we've got some pitchers who can go out and beat anybody, so we'll go wherever we're supposed to go. We can't really control who we play or where we go at this point. For us, now it's about focusing on ourselves and playing well again at the right time of the year."