PRATT, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College baseball team closed out its first series inside the KJCCC West in fine fashion, splitting Sunday's doubleheader against Pratt Community College to capture a 3-1 series win.
Cloud County (9-5 overall, 3-1 KJCCC) swept Friday's twin bill out in Alva, Oklahoma and the change of venue did little to deter the T-Birds. After dropping a tough 4-3 final in extra innings to begin the day, they rolled to a 5-1 victory in Game Two behind a complete-game performance from sophomore Jackson Dietel.
"Jackson Dietel is the perfect medicine for that," said Cloud County head coach Eric Gilliland when asked about his team bouncing back after losing Game One in walk-off fashion. "He just gritted his teeth and got us through it. That's kind of what he does and what this group has been able to do. I don't have to motivate them too often to play."
Dietel limited Pratt (13-6 overall, 1-3 KJCCC) to one run on five hits while striking out three and not issuing a walk on the afternoon, continuing a torrid start to the 2019 season where he is 3-0 in his first three starts with a 2.57 earned run average.
The left-hander was given an early lead to work with as the T-Birds pushed across a run in the top of the first inning when sophomore Grant Schmidt delivered a two-out double to score fellow sophomore Kade Wallace.
Cloud County made it a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth when redshirt freshman catcher Cole Jackson fought off a ball down the right-field line that dropped in for a double, scoring Schmidt.
The T-Birds then put the game away with a three-run sixth inning that Schmidt (2-for-3, 2 runs and 1 RBI) again found himself in the middle of as he led off the inning with a triple and scored two batters later on another triple off the bat of freshman third baseman, Davis Pratt.
"I think Grant was the only person to hit a ball hard until Davis' triple. Pratt's left-hander (Jack Partington) had kind of spun us into the ground up until that point," Gilliland said. "Grant essentially put three runs on the board himself and that was the whole difference in that game; playing ahead instead of from behind."
Pratt would score on the same play after an errant cut-off throw bounced into the Beavers' dugout.
Game Two served as a great palate cleanser for the T-Birds after dropping a heartbreaking 4-3 game to begin the day.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh, Cloud County rallied to tie the game on a one-out, two-run double by Wallace that scored Ramon Vingochea and Dietel, who manned first base in Game One.
Wallaced was 2-for-4 with the two runs driven in, and 3-for-8 on the afternoon to bring his average to .351 so far this season.
"He's just a mature hitter and he has an excellent approach when he's at the plate," Gilliland said of Wallace. "He understands what he can do and he's done a very nice job so far."
Sophomore relief pitcher Corben Peters pitched a clean bottom of the seventh inning to force extras, and recorded the first two outs of the eighth inning before a two-out walk, passed ball and single to right field in succession gave Pratt the 4-3 victory.
The T-Birds will now turn their attention toward a busy week of baseball, starting with a single, nine-inning game against Kansas Wesleyan University JV at noon on Monday hosted by McPherson College.
Cloud County then resumes KJCCC West action at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday on the road against Seward County Community College.