CHANUTE, Kansas — After a 10-day hiatus, the Cloud County Community College baseball team was back on the diamond Monday for the first of two doubleheaders this week in a triangular against Northeast Community College and Neosho County Community College.
The T-Birds spit the doubleheader, grinding out a 6-2 victory in Game One over Northwest, before falling 5-2 in the nightcap to hosts Neosho County.
Cloud County (4-3 overall) rode a strong start from sophomore left-hander Jackson Dietel and timely offense to its victory over the Hawks to begin the day.
Braving the low early morning temperatures, Dietel was fantastic again in his second start of the season as he pitched another complete game, limiting Northeast to a pair of runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out seven.
Dietel threw 66 of his 95 pitches for a strike and didn't walk a batter. He has 18 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched so far this season and currently sports an 11.57 strikeout per nine innings, nearly double his 5.88 K/9 mark from a season ago.
"He's learning how to use his stuff a little bit better. Combine that with the confidence of being a sophomore and that's a big part of it," said Cloud County head coach Eric Gilliland about Dietel's added elusiveness. "There might be a tick more velocity on the fastball, but he's really developed his repertoire and is pitching with more conviction out there."
With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the T-Birds' offense came to life and put Dietel on the plus-side, rallying for four runs on four hits.
Sophomore first baseman Kade Wallace and redshirt freshman second baseman Ramon Vingochea each drove in a run with RBI singles, while freshman Clayton Loranger had a two-run single that brought home Alex Rice and Cooper Schlochtermeier.
Loranger finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI atop the batting order while recording two of Cloud County's five stolen bases.
Sophomore third baseman Blake Manuel also added two hits (2-for-2) to round out a productive Game One.
"Overall, we did an excellent job, offensively, in Game One on a pretty chilly morning where the ball wasn't really going flying anywhere," Gilliland said. "We were valuing 90 feet, finding a way to first and then we stole a lot of bases. We had really solid at-bats, several hit-by-pitches, and that's why we won Game One. It's also why we lost Game Two."
Cloud County was unable to duplicate its disciplined and workmanlike approach in the box in Game Two's 5-2 loss to Neosho County, finishing with four hits and two stolen bases.
The T-Birds also committed three errors, defensively, that each led to a pair of runs for the Panthers.
"We didn't take care of the baseball in Game Two and we didn't find our way to first base very often in Game Two," Gilliland said. "It was ugly and when you're up against a good team like Neosho County, you can't do anything other than what got you there. I thought we played a little tight in the second game. But it was just one bad game. Those are things we have to clean up, address those mistakes and learn from them early in the season."
Sophomore right-hander Austen Seidel was saddled with the tough-luck loss, allowing three runs, two earned, in 4.1 innings while striking out nine.
Seidel was on rails most of the afternoon, but fell victim to some deep counts and five walks that knocked him out of the ballgame early.
"Austen had some of the best stuff he's had in a long time, just was deep in a lot of counts and walked too many guys," Gilliland said. "It was really good to see him with his big-time stuff. We just need to be a little more efficient, but I like where he's at and where most of our pitching staff is at."
Cloud County had a brief lead in Game Two, going up 1-0 on the first collegiate home run for freshman third baseman Davis Pratt in the top of the second inning.
The T-Birds' second run came on a two-out, misplayed pop up on the infield that allowed Connor Laux, who singled and stole a base, to come home to score.
Cloud County will look to close out the triangular strong on Tuesday. It'll get the day started with a 9 a.m. game against Northeast before a 3 p.m. rematch with Neosho County.