By RAMA PEROO/Cowley College
With a chance to punch its ticket to Wichita and play at the Region VI Tournament at Wichita State University May 17-21, the No. 4-seed Cowley College baseball team will have to wait as 13th-seed Pratt Community College evened its best-of-three sub-regional at a game apiece with a 10-9 victory over the Tigers Thursday in Arkansas City.
The teams will play again this afternoon at 2 p.m. in Ark City, with the winner moving on.
A six-run fourth inning helped Pratt to a 9-5 lead, and the Beavers would hold on with everything they had to win by one.
“We dug ourselves a hole we could not get out of,” Cowley head coach Darren Burroughs said. “We didn’t pitch well enough early in the game and just came up short.”
On Thursday, the Tigers (34-20) struck for four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Cowley had three hits in the inning, including a two-run double by Logan Vaughan.
The Beavers (25-32) began to chip away at their deficit as they chased Cowley starting pitcher Brigden Parker after only three innings. Pratt scored two runs in the second inning and one more in the third as they got to Parker for eight hits and three runs.
However, Cowley scratched across another run in the bottom of the third to lead 5-3.
Tanner Vaughn came on in relief of Parker and could not protect the lead as he retired only one of the four batters he faced and left with the game tied 5-5.
Freshman Andrew Talburt followed on the mound and walked the only two batters he faced to load the bases with one out. Drew Duckhorn came on and promptly walked in a run to give Pratt a 6-5 lead. He then threw a wild pitch that scored another run and walked the second batter on four pitches to reload the bases before Brett McComas came on as the fourth Tiger pitcher in the inning.
Jaden Flores’ two-run single would cap the Beavers’ six-run fourth inning as Pratt led 9-5.
Cowley would get two of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning when Keaton Campbell doubled home a run and scored on a sacrifice fly by Vaughan to make the score 9-7. That would be all for Pratt starting pitcher Marcelo Aguirre, who allowed seven hits and seven runs in five innings.
With Beaver reliever Xander Roberts on the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning, Pratt centerfielder Michael Acosta robbed Trayson Miller of a solo home run as he went above the wall to make the catch.
Sophomore Jack Hill, who had pitched only 16 2/3 innings on the season, finally gave Cowley some stability on the mound by tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings before a pair of hit batters and a wild pitch led to Pratt tacking on a 10th run.
Ty Hammack got the run back for the Tigers by hitting a ground-rule double leading off the bottom of the seventh and came around to score two batters later. Cowley had a chance for more as they would load the bases with two outs before Roberts got Haden O’Toole to line out sharply to right field to end the inning.
With one out in the eighth inning, Trayson Miller hit one into the gap but fell rounding second and was thrown out diving into third base. Hammack followed with a single that would have scored Miller and advanced to third on a two-out single by Cooper Schwindt before Campbell flew out to center to strand two more runners.
With Carlton Perkins tossing a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to go along with four strikeouts, Cowley had one more crack at it in the bottom of the ninth.
The Tigers’ first two batters would reach base in the bottom of the ninth before Pratt closer Jace Doelitsch got Luke Shanahan out on a well-executed sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position.
O’Toole followed with a ground out that scored Cole Martin to make the score 10-9 with two outs and a runner at third. With the tying run only 90 feet away, Doelitsch struck out Jadyn McNealy looking to preserve the one-run win and keep the Beavers’ season alive.
Logan Vaughan and Hammack had three hits apiece as both teams finished with 13 hits in the game.
While the winner of Friday’s game advances to play at the Region Tournament, the loser will have its season come to an end.
“We are not done,” Burroughs said. “We have a chance to save our season. It will come down to who wants it more.”
Score by inning: R H E
Pratt 0 2 1 6 0 0 1 0 0 – 10 13 0
Cowley 4 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 1 – 13 9 2