Written by Katie Morford Tuesday, 08 May 2012 15:07
Once again Lady Luck favored No. 1 seed Sterling College as it disappointed the Tabor baseball team’s KCAC championship hopes at this week’s tournament, forcing the Jays to settle for runner-up for the second straight year.
“We had the lead in both games and were unable to sustain them,” said coach Mark Standiford. “Sterling is a very good team, and it is important to keep the pressure when you have them down.
“I thought we played OK considering we played a four-hour marathon the night before.”
The Bluejays downed No. 3 seed Kansas Wesleyan the morning of May 2, advancing to the semi-finals against Sterling Thursday. But when the Warriors defeated Tabor, knocking them into the loser’s bracket, the Jays had to top Kansas Wesleyan once more to earn another chance at Sterling in the championship Friday afternoon.
But Sterling once again bested the Bluejays in a back-and-forth contest to take the championship trophy and earn a spot in the opening round of the NAIA tournament.
Championship, Sterling —The Tabor baseball team once again fell to their nemesis Friday as they faced off with Sterling College in the championship round of the KCAC tournament.
The Bluejays lost, 9-5, as they struggled to get hits against the Warriors and committed costly errors on defense.
Sterling took an early lead but Tabor tied it up again in the fourth inning, 3-3, with a home run from Adam McCormick.
But the Warriors’ offensive engines got rolling in the fifth and sixth innings and they broke free for three runs in the eighth to seal the deal.
McCormick led at the plate with two runs-batted-in, but Tyler Kozlowski, Matt Cardona and Colby Tessendorf chipped in an RBI each.
Nicholas Reif (5-3) pitched 5 1/5 innings for the loss, striking out three but allowing 10 hits and six runs. Zach Richert closed for the Bluejays, allowing three runs.
Loser’s Bracket, KWU —Tabor's high-powered offense found its stride again versus No. 3 seed Kansas Wesleyan in a 19-14 victory Thursday evening.
The Bluejays started with six runs in the first inning and kept the tally rolling to take the win.
Matt Cardona hit a home run for Tabor, leading offensively with four runs-batted-in against the Coyotes. Adam McCormick added three RBIs.
Anthony Mendoza pitched 4 1/5 innings and struck out seven batters before Matt Lambert pitched three scoreless innings to close for the win.
Semi-finals, Sterling —Tabor yielded an 8-6 decision to top-seeded Sterling College in the semi-final round Thursday afternoon.
Tabor earned a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning, helped by a home run from KCAC Player of the Year Art Corona, but the Jays let Sterling break free for a five-run scoring burst in the sixth inning.
Sterling added two more runs in the following innings to finish the job.
The loss knocked the Bluejays down into the loser's bracket, where they played Kansas Wesleyan for another shot at Sterling in the championship game.
Corona had three runs-batted-in, with Koby Temple, Adam McCormick and Paul Sciacca chipping in an RBI a piece.
Brian Kowal (8-5) pitched seven innings for the loss, allowing 12 hits and seven runs.
Opening round, KWU—After struggling early, No. 2-seeded Tabor rallied to string together eight runs in the fifth inning and roar past No. 3 seed and defending champion Kansas Wesleyan in the Bluejays’ first KCAC tournament outing May 2, picking up a 16-8 victory.
Tabor took a 2-1 advantage in the first inning, but the Coyotes picked up four runs in the second to take a 7-4 lead in the top of the fifth.
The Bluejays' offense finally made an appearance in the bottom of the fifth when senior catcher Matt Weger nailed a home run, sparking an eight-run scoring spurt to put Tabor up, 12-7.
The Bluejays earned another run at the bottom of the sixth before allowing a blank inning.
But junior outfielder Tyler Kozlowski homered in the bottom of the eighth to bring home three runs and give Tabor its final margin of victory.
Kozlowski and senior outfielder Matt Cardona tied for top honors at the plate, with three runs-batted-in each. Weger and junior second-baseman Art Corona added two RBI a piece.
David Ormiston (9-2) struggled early but rallied midway through the contest for the win, striking out five batters, while allowing 13 hits and eight runs.
Coming —No. 4 seed Tabor is scheduled to host Dakota State University at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson Thursday for the opening round of the NAIA regional baseball tournament. Play begins at 11 a.m.
“This is a very strong field coming to our regional,” said coach Mark Standiford.
“I know we are looking forward to the challenge and hope everyone can come out and support us.”