Cloud County falls to Cowley in second round of Region VI/Central District Playoffs

Cloud County freshman Connor Laux finished 2-for-3 in Wednesday's loss to Cowley College.
Cloud County freshman Connor Laux finished 2-for-3 in Wednesday's loss to Cowley College.

WICHITA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College baseball team fell by an 8-0 final score Wednesday in its Region VI/Central District Playoff matchup against No. 2 seed Cowley College, hosted at Eck Stadium on the Wichita State University campus.

The final score was not indicative of the pitchers' duel the two teams were locked in through the first five innings before the Tigers (42-12 overall), the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament, was able to put up six late-inning runs.

"Hats off to Cowley. That was a heck of a pitching performance for their guy (Brannon Jordan). He has a great arm and there's a reason he's going to the University of South Carolina," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "To beat Cowley, you have to play very well and have a little good fortune on your side and (Wednesday) it just didn't go our way."

Jordan went all seven innings, limiting the T-Birds (33-23 overall) to five hits while striking out five and not walking a batter.

Cloud County had some opportunities early to get after him, most notably in the second inning when sophomores Grant Schmidt and Kade Wallace opened the inning with back-to-back hit by pitches.

Next up was freshman third baseman Davis Pratt, who hit a deep fly ball to right, but it died just in front of the warning track.

In the fourth, with the T-Birds just down 1-0, Wallace laced another deep drive to center that was hauled in short of the wall.

"We had a few chances to score, squared some balls up, but they were hit right at people," Gilliland said. "(Jordan) didn't give up a run in his last start against Johnson County. He's very good and, when his back is against the wall, he's even better. His stuff got better and better as the game progressed and when men were on base."

Wallace, Pratt and freshman outfielder Alex Rice would all finish with one hit on the after, while freshman shortstop Connor Laux led the T-Birds with a pair of sharp singles, making him 2-for-3 on the afternoon.

"Connor has played very well for us for quite a while now. He's responded in big moments and was really good for us (Wednesday)," Gilliland said.

The other half of the pitchers' duel was provided by Cloud County freshman right-hander Josh Laukkanen, who held a talented Cowley lineup to two runs on seven hits through the first five innings.

Cowley was able to create some separation in the sixth, though, as the Tigers scored four runs on four hits in the inning to push its lead to 6-0.

"I really thought Josh did a nice job hanging with (Jordan), despite not being incredibly sharp," Gilliland said. "We were hoping he'd settle into a groove, but unfortunately never really was able to. He got out of a lot of jams early on, but it's hard to sustain that over and over again."

Cloud County will now turn the page and try to work its way back through the bracket, starting at 10 a.m. Thursday against Butler Community College inside Eck Stadium.

The T-Birds and Grizzlies, who fell by a 6-3 final on Wednesday to Barton Community College, split their four-game series against each other during the regular season.

"There's no time to dwell on it or worry about it. We play at 10 a.m. Thursday with our season on the line," Gilliland said. "From here, you want to be the team that sends people home and not be the one sent home. Our backs are against the wall, we'll see what we're made of in the morning. I expect another battle against a good team."