The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team had their season come to an end Saturday falling to Trinidad State Junior College 15-5 Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the Region IX Tournament at Cleveland Field.
The Trojans, who won their fourth straight Region IX title, will now head to the district tournament next weekend in Arizona.
The Cougars finished the season at 30-30, which included a tremendous season that included winning an Empire Conference championship for the first time in school history.
WNCC head coach Mike Jones said this team has nothing to hang their heads.
“It has been an excellent season. The guys great job of staying consistent and working all season long,” Jones said. “They showed excellent character all the way through. I am extremely proud of them.”
Saturday, the Cougars ran into a Trinidad State squad that was on fire, finishing with 15 hits, including a 7-run second inning. Despite the early deficit and like they did all season, the Cougar players kept fighting making a late comeback.
“We would like to have seen a few plays go a little bit different and go in our favor and I think that would have changed the outcome of the game,” Jones said. “But that is baseball and that is the beautiful thing about it. I don’t want to take anything away from Trinidad. They put the ball in play and had a lot of good at bats. Their pitching kept us off balance and they played really good defense behind their guy.”
What Jones liked about his team, though, was that they didn’t get down, coming back to score three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was a little too late.
“Nobody amongst our team ever gave up. Everybody was continually giving their best effort,” he said. “We made a rally late in the game fortunately it was too far for us to get back on track.”
The game started out competitive. Trinidad scored once in the first and watched WNCC tie the game at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the first on a Alex Achtermann single.
The second inning was the difference with Trinidad scoring seven times on three singles and all the runs came with two outs for an 8-1 lead.
WNCC slices the lead to 8-2 after Ryan Grasser rips a solo home run. Neither teams scored again over the next two innings. Trinidad ups the lead to 12-2 with four in the sixth and then plates two in the seventh for a 14-2 lead.
Trailing 15-2, WNCC makes a rally in the ninth on two hits, a Lincoln Trujillo single and then an run-scoring single by Lucas Piatchek.
WNCC finished with seven hits in the contest. Grasser led the way with two hits, including a double, home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored. Piatchek also had two hits with a RBI.
Trinidad had two players finish with three hits. Alex Bedard and Blake Mattey each had three hits. Mattey had a home run, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
The Cougars lose a slew of sophomores from this year’s team and Jones said those sophomores are going to be hard to miss.
The sophomore class was an excellent group of ball players but also a great group of people and student athletes in general,” Jones said. “They meant a lot to our program. We expect our program to continue to have those types of traits and character guys and a lot of it is contributed to the sophomore guys that we have right know.”
Trinidad 170 004 201 – 15 15 1
WNCC 101 000 003 – 5 7 4