The Western Oklahoma State College Pioneers kicked off the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series tournament in dramatic fashion against the Parkland Cobras on Saturday in Enid.
The Pioneers showed that they are capable of dismantling the Cobras. They have only one goal and look as if they will stop at nothing to achieve it. The Pioneers are fighting for a chance to get back to the championship game after giving up a 10-1 lead last year against Louisiana State University at Eunice in the first game and then dropping the second game, 16-1.
So far, so good.
The Pioneers started off strong and never let up, triggering the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth inning with a 20-2 lead over the Cobras. The rule, designed to keep the winning team from running up the score and to prevent humiliating the losing team, can only be used once five complete innings have been played.
After Joshua Anthony and Blake Clanton both struck out swinging, Bryan Hernandez singled to left field and held steady until Taylor Avila also singled to left field and put two Pioneers in a position to score. Christopher Jones stepped up and laid down a bunt. An error by Parkland’s Jordyn Muffley let Jones escape an out and scored both Hernandez and Avila. Another error by Parkland’s right fielder, Bobby Wenthe, advanced Jones to third where he waited for Raul Mercado to bring him home with a single to left field.
Just like that, the Pioneers took a 3-0 lead and never looked back.
Seven players for WOSC notched two or more hits and the team finished the day with 16 total hits. Every starter scored at least once, but Jones and Clanton lead the way for WOSC’s offensive explosion with a combined eight appearances at the plate, five hits, six runs, and eight runs batted in. Avila added three hits on four attempts and added three runs to the scoreboard. Wanderson Pinales knocked WOSC’s only home run of the day, a three-run shot that put across three RBI’s and brought WOSC’s lead up to 8-0. Carlos Pimentel picked up the victory on three innings of solid pitching only allowing three hits, a run, and striking out three.
WOSC scored two in the second inning, four in the third and fourth, and an incredible seven in the fifth, causing the officials to call a stop to the game and advance the Pioneers on to play against Mercer County Community College on Monday.
WOSC started solid against Mercer, but floundered down the stretch until the final inning. Joshua Anthony doubled to left field and then ran it in when Hernandez singled to center field. WOSC led 1-0 until the bottom of the third when Mercer opened it up by taking advantage of costly errors by the Pioneers. The game was still manageable when Mercer shortstop Vinny Vaccone stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and sent a line drive ball over the left field fence to gain the upper hand at 6-1.
Mercer scored once more in the bottom of the fifth when Henry Hawkins scored on a Vaccone line drive single to center field. The Pioneers avoided any further damage and started to mount their comeback in the top of the sixth when Raul Mercado jacked one over the left-field fence for a two-run home run. Mercer tried to put it away in the bottom of the seventh when Erik Bowren doubled to left field, allowing Hawkins to score.
In the top of the eighth inning, Christopher Acosta-Tapia was walked, which advanced Taylor Avila to home for another score. The score now 8-4, the Pioneers were starting to get excited for a potential comeback. Erratic pitching by Mercer gave WOSC another score as Blake Clanton crossed home plate. Mercado was hit by a pitch and that left the bases loaded as John Lantigua stepped up to the plate as the winning run. Unfortunately, Lantigua struck out swinging to end the game and send the Pioneers to the losers’ bracket where they would face Monroe Community College noon Tuesday.
Tuesday’s game against Monroe was reminiscent of Saturday’s game against Parkland. The game started in favor of Monroe with them grabbing the lead off a John Ricotta home run. By the top of the third inning, however, WOSC got it together and put some space between their opponents and them.
Christopher Acosta-Tapia was hit by a Colin Johnston pitch and made it to second when Frankely Gonzalez reached base on an error by second baseman Alex Saville. Anthony then reached base on a ground-ball fielder’s choice, but an error by shortstop Connor Lewis allowed Acosta-Tapia to score and get Anthony to second base. Blake Clanton was walked and Hernandez reached base on an error by Monroe center fielder Luke Brust. That error allowed both Anthony and Clanton to score and gave WOSC a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the third.
The scoreboard didn’t change until the top of the fifth when WOSC saw their bats come to life with Anthony and Clanton, the first two batters of the inning, each sending a home run over the right-field fence. Christopher Jones was walked and second baseman Raul Mercado stepped up to the plate and punched a ball over the left-field fence for a two-run home run. Santiago scored on an error and Acosta-Tapia scored on a wild pitch and in one inning the WOSC offense put six more scores on the board.
Monroe couldn’t come up with anything in the bottom of the fifth and so WOSC, looking to have the mercy rule activated once more, got down to business. Hernandez scored on a passed ball and Jones scored on a wild pitch putting the game out of reach for Monroe and sending WOSC on to the next round. Tanner Andrews picked up the win on four innings pitched, allowing only three hits and one run and striking out three.
The next game has yet to be announced. The Pioneers are working hard and elevating their game in order to bring another NJCAA DII National Championship home to Altus.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221 ext. 2076.