In a game that had as many twists and turns as a NASCAR road course, Crowder College and Eastern Oklahoma managed to keep things interesting on Tuesday at Roughrider Field.
The Roughriders led 7-2 after four innings, then trailed 14-11 in the bottom of the ninth, but plated four runs in the inning to win on a walk-off, 15-14. The victory pushed the Roughriders to 13-3 overall, after going 1-2 over the weekend against Des Moines Area Community College.
The Roughriders benefited from an enormous day at the plate from its entire lineup as they pounded out 16 hits as a team. But none had the day that cleanup hitter Matt Burgess did. The sophomore switch-hitter dominated Eastern Oklahoma pitching by crushing a pair of home runs while going 4 for 5 at the plate with eight RBI and three runs scored. Burgess' first blast was a grand slam off of reliever Dylan Linke on a 0-2 count in the fourth inning, before adding a solo shot in his next at-bat in the sixth off of Jacob Lawrence.
"It was one of those offensive days," Roughriders coach Travis Lallemand said. "We didn't pitch that well, but we made up for it with our bats. We had our best offensive practice (Monday) and the kids were really locked in. That was a huge victory for us. Even when we failed, our outs were quality at-bats. Today they answered the bell."
Also coming up big at the plate was Tony Sandifer, who drove in a pair of runs when he clubbed a triple to right field, and then ended the game with a walk-off sacrifice fly.
"We're seeing the difference-making Tony Sandifer we recruited," Lallemand praised. "He was special today at the plate."
Chris Scroggins finished with three hits, an RBI and three runs scored. Cody Althouse had two hits and scored three runs. Ty White had two hits, an RBI and scored a run. Ryan Lazo added a pair of hits and scored a run. Sam May and Justin Sunde both had hits as well.
Perhaps deservedly so, Crowder reliever Cody Jackson picked up the win after allowing one run in 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and no walks. Jackson has been one of the unsung heroes in the Roughriders bullpen this season, often called upon to work the team out of some of its toughest jams. Lallemand was happy to see him credited with the victory.
"He's been a huge part of our success," Lallemand said. "He's one of the main reasons we're 13-3 right now."
The Roughriders are back in action today when they travel to Hutchinson, Kan., to take on Hutchinson Community College in a nine inning game at 2 p.m. Lallemand said he hopes the team continues to build off of Tuesday's offensive success.
Page 2 of 2 - 'For our confidence of our hitters to step up and have a big day like they did (Tuesday) was big," he said. "It was almost like a match made in heaven for our hitters to step up in a close game and take center stage like that. They needed that."