Despite dropping two games to No. 2 seeded Sterling in the double elimination KCAC tournament at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson, Tabor’s baseball season is not finished yet.
The Bluejays (38-14) were one of 16 schools to receive an at-large bid—a result of the final NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll—and will play in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round May 9-13.
To get there, Tabor opened the KCAC tournament with a victory over Friends Friday before falling to Sterling later that day.
The Bluejays then defeated Bethany Saturday morning to again face Sterling, this time for the championship. Tabor lost that game, 6-0.
“It was a tough week due to the weather,” coach Mark Standiford said. “We had to condense the tournament down to two days, which made it tough, since we were the only team that did not play on Wednesday.
“That said, I thought we played pretty well. The key game was against Sterling on Friday, which we led all game until the eighth and lost.”
Sterling—Tabor’s win over Bethany brought a rematch with Sterling in the championship game Saturday at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson.
Sterling opened with a four-run first inning thanks to a double that batted in three runs. Tabor could not recover, losing by a 6-0 score.
Tabor recorded five hits in the game: two from first-team All-KCAC selection Kirk Rocha, and one each from second-team All-KCAC selection Kevin Seeger, Paul Sciacca and Shaun Reid.
Co-Freshman of the Year Jacob Webb absorbed the loss for Tabor. In seven innings, he gave up eight hits and six runs (five earned), while walking two and striking out two.
Sterling (47-11) will enter the NAIA national championship opening round as the No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City bracket.
Bethany—After losing to Sterling Friday, Tabor bounced back Saturday morning with a 9-3 victory to stay alive.
With Bethany leading 2-1 in the top of the second, the Bluejays reclaimed the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, then added two more in the sixth and four in the eighth to claim the six-run victory.
Kirk Rocha contributed three RBIs on 4-for-5 hitting. Troy Torres added two hits in five at-bats with two RBIs.
Matt Lambert—a second-team All-KCAC selection—was Tabor’s starting and winning pitcher. In seven innings, he gave up eight hits and two runs (both earned) while walking two and striking out eight. Brian Kowal, who earned All-KCAC honorable mention, and Alex Mann, a first-team All-KCAC selection, pitched in relief.
Sterling—With the opening win over Friends, Tabor lost 4-3 to No. 2 Sterling Friday evening.
Going into the eighth inning, the Bluejays led 3-1, but Sterling tied the game on a Bluejay error. Sterling scored one final run in the inning to claim the lead.
Two of Tabor’s runs came in the third inning. First-team All-KCAC selection Art Corona’s single scored Troy Torres, and Paul Sciacca scored when Grant Silva—a first-team All-KCAC selection—reached first on a walk.
Tabor scored its final run in the top of the fourth inning when Torres hit a sacrifice fly that the scored Tyler Kozlowski, a second-team All-KCAC selection.
Corona had one RBI on 1-for-3 hitting, and Kozlowski and Kirk Rocha each hit a double.
KCAC Pitcher of the Year Josh Stone—who was also named to the All-KCAC first team and Gold Glove team—absorbed the loss for Tabor. He pitched 7.1 innings, giving up four hits and three runs (one earned) while walking two and striking out five.
Friends—It took 10 innings for the Bluejays to put Friday’s KCAC tournament game at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson against Friends away, 5-2.
After enduring four scoreless innings, Tabor scored a run in the top of the fifth inning when Keenan Chanin—who earned All-KCAC honorable mention—scored on a Troy Torres single.
Tabor added a second run in the top of the seventh inning when Art Corona hit a single that allowed Shaun Reid to score.
But just when it appeared Tabor had things under control, a few costly errors allowed the Falcons to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In the eighth inning, Friends threatened with a Falcon at third with only one out. But Kevin Seeger snagged a line drive at first for the second out, and Tabor gained the third out on the next play to end the inning still locked at 2-2.
In the 10th inning, Tabor faced a new pitcher, but Grant Silva and Kirk Rocha stroked back-to-back singles, and the Friends defense fell apart with two errors.
Tabor capitalized, scoring three runs to take the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the first Friends batter singled up the middle, but Tabor’s relief pitcher Alex Mann struck out the second one. The Bluejays followed with a double play to seal the victory.
Torres had two RBIs on 2-for-5 hitting, while Corona contributed one RBI. Wes Moody—a second-team All-KCAC and Gold Glove selection—and Shaun Reid went 1-for-3 at the plate.
Anthony Mendoza—a first-team All-KCAC selection—was Tabor’s starter on the mound. Mann pitched 32⁄3 scoreless innings to earn the win.
Coming—Tabor is the No. 4 seed in the Santa Clarita bracket and will face No. 5 Concordia (Ore.) in Game 1 to be played at The Master’s College (Calif.) Thursday at 9 a.m (PDT). The winner of that game will face No. 1 The Master’s (40-15).
This will be Tabor’s second appearance in the opening round of the national championship. The first came one year ago when the Bluejays were one win away from winning their NAIA regional tournament.