T-Birds show promise, go 1-2 in competitive three-game series against Fort Scott to open season

Sophomore first baseman Kolton Meyer (No. 9) scores a run during Cloud's 19-9 win over Fort Scott in Game Two.
Sophomore first baseman Kolton Meyer (No. 9) scores a run during Cloud's 19-9 win over Fort Scott in Game Two.

FORT SCOTT, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College baseball team opened up its 2017 season over the weekend against KJCCC East foe Fort Scott Community College and showed promise, going 1-2 in the three-game, non-conference series hosted at the LaRoche Baseball Complex.

Cloud County (1-2 overall, 0-0 KJCCC) dropped Game One on Saturday, 12-2, in seven innings, but broke out the lumber in Game Two as the T-Birds had 13 hits in a 19-9 victory: the first for first-year head coach, Eric Gilliland.

"It was huge to do it against a quality opponent and prove to ourselves that we belong," Gilliland said. "On the personal side of things, it (first win) was obviously very special to me. But for everyone here, to beat a quality Kansas Jayhawk Conference opponent on the road was a lot fun."

The T-Birds were in a position to earn a series win Sunday, tallying nine hits and having 17 players reach base, but had the timely big hit elude them in the 5-2 loss to the Greyhounds.

Big innings were the common theme during the series as Fort Scott used a 10-run third inning to seal Game One. Cloud County countered with a nine-run third inning in Game Two that erased an early 3-0 deficit and set the table for its victory.

The Greyhounds would inch back within two runs at 10-8 after four runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the T-Birds were able to bounce back with a five-run eighth inning and a four-run ninth inning to put the game out of reach.

"Game One was really that one big inning that hurt us. You take that half inning out and we play them 2-2. We played a little tight and nervous," Gilliland said. "Game Two was just kind of the opposite. We did the things winning ball clubs do by answering with runs after they scored."

Nine different Cloud County players recorded hits in Game Two, led freshmen Ryan Simons, Matt Bondarchuk, and Ryan Krolikowski, and sophomore Kolton Meyer with two hits apiece.

Krolikowski, who was 2-for-6 with two runs scored and four RBI, delivered the big blow in the nine-run third inning with the go-ahead grand slam.

Bonderchuk and fellow outfielder freshman outfielder AJ Knight each added three RBI from the top two spots in the batting order, while Meyer, a first baseman for Fort Scott last season, reached base four times as he went 2-for-4 with a pair of walks, two RBI and two runs scored.

"He (Meyer) is going to be a fixture in the middle of our order. He did a great job of being selective at the plate and when he got good pitches, he didn't miss them," Gilliland said. "It was special for him to do that against a team he played for last year."

On the mound, freshman right-hander Patrick Rosborough picked up his first collegiate win with a workmanlike outing as he went five innings, allowed four earned runs on four hits and struck out six.

Sophomore southpaw John Stiger picked up the save with four innings in relief. He allowed five runs, two earned, on three hits and added six strikeouts, as well.

While there are areas to clean up as Cloud County heads to Highland Community College for Thursday's road doubleheader, set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Gilliland said he was pleased with the potential his young team showed in their first spring series.

"On the mound, we need to get deeper into games with our starters. But that's partially because it's early in the season and they aren't ready to go longer," Gilliland said. "If you take that one 10-run inning out, I thought the pitchers did well in their roles. We have to minimize mistakes and those big innings, but there were certainly a lot of positives on the mound, as well. Overall, we saw some signs with a very young team that we belong and can compete in the KJCCC. We need to continue to improve moving forward."