CONCORDIA, Kan. – The Cloud County Community College baseball team would get their season off to a big start by sweeping Fort Scott Community College in a doubleheader by score of 6-2 and 16-7 at the LaRoche Baseball Complex in Fort Scott, Kansas on Saturday, February 8th.
Both games would be played as seven-inning contests with the T-Birds opening the season with a pair of wins for the first time under head coach Eric Gilliland while Fort Scott falls to 0-2 to start the season. Sunday's games have been cancelled due to forecasted rain which gives Cloud County a regular-season sweep of the Greyhounds with the two games serving as the only scheduled contests between the teams.
After going down in order to start the game, Cloud County would have to battle through a pair of one-out hits from the Greyhounds in the bottom of the first as starting pitcher Josh Laukkanen would end the inning with back-to-back strikeouts to hold runners at second and third. Following a strikeout to lead off the top of the second, Cloud County would use a hit batter and back-to-back singles score three runs in the inning on three hits and an error. Laukkanen would then work a perfect bottom half of the inning with two more strikeouts as the score would remain a 3-0 lead for Cloud County through three innings of action.
In the top of the fourth, Cloud County would add on to their lead with another crooked number, thanks in part to a two-out rally that would start with a Ty Nelson double. Alex Rice would then flip the lineup over to Clayton Loranger who would draw a walk to load the bases for two-hole hitter Conner Laux. Laux would deliver with a two-RBI single and draw a throw on a delayed steal to allow Loranger to score on the next at-bat as CCCC would go up 6-0.
Fort Scott would be unable to work a leadoff single into anything in the bottom of the frame, but put down the T-Birds in order in the fifth to keep things at 6-0. After working a two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, Laukkanen would run into trouble by allowing back-to-back solo home runs to Fort Scott as the Greyhounds would get on the board but see the inning end on a groundout to shortstop.
The final two innings would see Cloud County unable to work any offense by going down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings, but manage to hold the Greyhounds scoreless as Joseph Karall would retire the final five batters of the game in order after allowing a one-out walk and double in the bottom of the sixth to take game one.
Laux and Rice would each collect two hits in the game as the T-Birds would get seven total hits with Laux and Nelson responsible for the two CCCC extra-base hits. Five of the six runs scored would come from the bottom half of the lineup with the five through nine-hole batters each scoring once. Picking up the win on the mound would be Laukkanen after going five innings and striking out seven while allowing two runs on six hits. Karall would finish off the final two innings and strike out three as Cloud County would finish the game with 10 total strikeouts.
Offenses would waste no time in the back end of the twin bill as the first three batters of the game would reach base for the T-Birds with Jaden Parsons and Loranger each collecting extra-base hits as part of a three-run top of the first. Fort Scott would have an answer however, putting up four runs on three hits and a walk in the bottom of the inning to take their first lead of the afternoon at 4-3 through one inning of action. Kyler Charchun would work a leadoff walk in the top of the second and manage to score on a Laux double as Cloud County would reclaim the lead at 5-4 on two runs with two hits in the top of the second.
The T-Birds would then manage to strand a one-out single from the Greyhounds in the bottom half of the inning and go back to work at the plate in the top of the third another run would come across thanks in part to a two-out rally. The 6-4 lead would remain intact through three innings as Fort Scott would go down in order in the third with the meat of the T-Bird lineup due up in the fourth.
Another two-out rally in the top of the fourth for Cloud County would see CCCC shake off two strikeouts to draw a walk from Ed Scott before Noah Olson would clear things with a home run to left center field to the T-Birds up 8-4. The inning would come to an end on a strikeout after a walk would put Trevor Stevens aboard as Cloud County would have some breathing room for the first time in the game.
Fort Scott would respond with two runs and nearly a third in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half but would see things broken open in the top of the fifth on a wild two-out rally that saw five runs score on four hits including a Loranger two-run homer and Stevens bases-clearing double to drive in three more runs. Cloud County would hold put down the Greyhounds in order to end the fifth and tack on two more insurance runs in the sixth to grab a commanding 15-6 lead. Each team would manage to score once in the seventh as the game would end in a nine-run margin of victory for CCCC.
Nine extra-base hits by Cloud County would see the T-Birds hit six doubles, one triple and two homers in the contest the top of the lineup accounting for eight of the nine hits and nine RBI. Laux had a monster four-for-six performance with three doubles and two RBI while Loranger would drive in six runs on four hits of his own.
Four pitchers would be used in the game by CCCC, with Tylor Jans earning the victory after throwing three innings and allowing two runs on three hits with neither run coming as earned. Haden Dow (one inning), Trey Asher (two innings) and Brayden Radcliffe (one inning) would also see action on the bump, combining for eight strikeouts in four innings of action.
With Sunday's doubleheader cancelled due to the aforementioned forecasted rain, Cloud County is now scheduled to hit the field again on Saturday, February 15th against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Edmond, Oklahoma on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma. The game will be part of a three-game weekend for the T-Birds who will also take on Coffeyville and Seminole State College in Edmond.