T-Birds kick off Spring Break with 10-2 victory over Kansas Wesleyan JV

Cloud County freshman catcher Griffin Larsen (left) hit his third home run of the season on Monday in a 10-2 win over Kansas Wesleyan JV
Cloud County freshman catcher Griffin Larsen (left) hit his third home run of the season on Monday in a 10-2 win over Kansas Wesleyan JV

McPHERSON, Kansas — Fresh off its series victory against Pratt over the weekend, the Cloud County Community College baseball team loaded the bus and were back on the diamond Monday for a single, nine-inning game against Kansas Wesleyan University JV, played at a neutral site on the McPherson College campus.

Cloud County (10-5 overall, 3-1 KJCCC) rolled to a 10-2 victory in an impromptu matchup with the Coyotes (0-3) that was added to the schedule less than 24 hours earlier.

"We wanted to play (Monday) for a lot of reasons. Number one, we're down a lot of games from the weather and we're on Spring Break. It was an opportunity to not only get out on a nice day, but to get better since we don't have a field to practice on right now," said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. "Another major purpose of today was getting a lot of guys in. We haven't had a lot of non-conference games and we've had a lot of guys we've wanted to take a good, solid look at."

Cloud County was able to accomplish just that as 15 players received a plate appearance, with nine different T-Birds recording at least one hit on the afternoon, led by multi-hit days from sophomore Kade Wallace (2-for-2, 1 run, 1 RBI) and Alex Rice (2-for-2, 2 RBI).

The T-Birds took control of the game with a five-run third inning that included a sacrifice fly from Wallace, a two-run double by sophomore Grant Schmidt, and a two-run home run off the bat of freshman catcher, Griffin Larsen.

It was the team-leading third home run of the season for Larsen, who finished his day 1-for-2 with a run scored and the two driven in.

Monday also allowed the T-Birds to give some at-bats to freshmen Josh Laukkanen and Tylor Jans, each of whom have earned spots in Cloud County's starting rotation but possess the ability to affect a game from the batter's box, as well.

Laukkanen drove in a run over his two plate appearances, while Jans finished 1-for-1 — a double off the outfield fence — with two runs scored in his first opportunity to hit this spring.

"Jans is a big-time power bat. He hit 13 home runs in a Canadian summer league last year," Gilliland said. "We wanted to split the game with him and Laukkanen at designated hitter. We recruited both of those guys as two-way players, but both have had success on the mound that we've held them out, offensively. Each of them can change a lineup with the way they can swing it."

Redshirt freshman Jace Armstrong (1-for-4), and true freshmen Connor Laux (1-for-3) and Kyler Charchun (1-for-3, 1 RBI) all recorded hits Monday for the T-Birds, as well.

Cloud County was also able to get a handful of pitchers some work in Monday's victory as seven different pitches toed the rubber.

Freshman right-hander Carson Marsh got the start and limited the Coyotes to three hits in his two innings of work.

The T-Birds would also receive scoreless innings from freshmen Billy Bechard and Brayden Radcliffe , redshirt freshman Connor Peterson, and sophomores Jack Theilen and Jacob Dauer.

"On the mound, it was a whole staff day and we got to see some new guys in action," Gilliland said. "I thought Billy, Brayden and Connor all had really good innings, while Jacob Dauer (2 IP, 3 Ks) was also excellent. He's kind of got a niche and when he throws strikes, he can do a lot of good things for us. He's a guy we're going to go to in conference games, so we needed a day like this to get him back out there. Jack Theilen was another guy we've been wanting to get in ballgames and he was awesome today, as well."

Cloud County will resume Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) action this week against Seward County Community College. The series is currently scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. Thursday out in Liberal.