The Tabor College baseball team concluded KCAC tournament play as runners-up Sunday.
After a first-round loss, then three elimination games wins, the 13th-ranked and second-seeded Bluejays suffered an 11-3 defeat to third-ranked and top-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan Sunday in the championship game.
Things did not get out of hand until late, as Tabor was scratched across the first run when Kyle James hit a leadoff single, Abdiel Alicea advanced the runner to third with a base hit and Jake Jones hit a sacrifice fly.
Tabor’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Eagles plated a tying run in the bottom half of the inning, then scored two runs without a hit in the fourth inning thanks to two Bluejay errors.
The Bluejays drew within 3-2 with a one-hit, one-run fifth inning, but, with single tallies in both the sixth and seventh innings, Oklahoma Wesleyan built a 5-2 lead.
Jordan Harris’ solo home run made it 5-3 in the top of the eighth, but Oklahoma Wesleyan blew the game open with a six-run bottom half of the inning. All three of the Eagles’ hits in the frame were home runs—a solo shot, then a two-run blast, and finally, a three-run bomb that concluded scoring for the game.
Alicea was 4-for-5 at-bat. Jones had two RBIs.
Edwin Suarez (2-2), who typically comes out of the pen, started the game and sustained the loss, pitching 51⁄3 innings and giving up three hits and four runs (two earned) while walking three batters and striking out three.
Both teams will continue play in the postseason as NAIA Opening Round tournament hosts.
Tabor 14, Sterling 9
KCAC Tournament, Saturday
The Bluejays led from start to finish, hanging a crooked number in the second inning by scoring five runs off four hits. Jordan Harris keyed the frame with a three-run home run.
Raulier Martinez hit a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning, and Colton Flax hit an RBI double in the one-run, three-hit sixth inning. Flax later drove in two runs with a single as part of the three-hit, six-run top of the seventh inning.
Sterling, meanwhile, scored one run in the third inning, three in the sixth and five in the ninth.
Harris was 3-for-3 at-bat, while Flax was 3-for-5. Both drove in three runs.
Michael Box (4-0) was the winning pitcher. In five innings, he gave up five hits and three runs (all earned). He walked three batters and struck out one.
Tabor 9, York 8
KCAC Tournament, Saturday
Tabor eliminated the Panthers, roughing up York’s starter in the opening inning, ending his day after he secured one out and gave up six hits and five earned runs. Tabor brought 11 batters to the plate and built a 6-0 lead. Jordan Harris, Colton Flax and Braxon Byfield each hit RBI singles.
But York narrowed the gap within 7-6 after outscoring Tabor, 3-1 in the second inning, then putting up a single tally in the third inning and scoring two more runs in the fourth.
The Bluejays responded by plating two runs in the fourth inning off three hits and an error. Brent McClure hit an RBI single, and Byfield, a sacrifice fly.
Those were Tabor’s final runs. York, meanwhile, put up single tallies in each of the seventh and ninth innings.
Byfield was 3-for-3 at-bat and had two RBIs. Jake Jones was 3-for-5. McClure also drove in two runs.
Colton Moore (2-2) earned the pitching win. In 51⁄3 innings of relief, he gave up four hits and two runs (both earned). He walked no one and struck out six batters.
Tabor 16, McPherson 2
KCAC Tournament, Friday
The Bluejays led from start to finish but used a seven-run sixth inning to blow the game open. Tabor knocked five hits in the frame and benefitted from two errors and a wild pitch. Colton Flax drove in two runs with a single, Brent McClure hit an RBI double, and AJ Shaw chased home the final run of the half-inning with a single.
After that, a three-run seventh inning concluded scoring for the game. Raulier Martinez worked a bases-loaded walk, and Joel Frias hit an RBI single.
To start the game, Tabor scored two runs in the first inning, then McPherson scored one run in the second inning. Tabor plated one run off two hits in the fourth inning and added three more runs in the fifth inning, thanks in part to Martinez’s RBI double and John Izquierdo’s two-run single.
The Bulldogs scratched their second run across in the sixth inning.
Tabor out-hit McPherson, 20-5. Three Bluejays were 3-for-4 at-bat: Shaw, Flax and Izquierdo. Flax batted in three runs.
Jagger Harjo (9-2) earned the pitching win. In 62/3 innings, he gave up five hits and two runs (both earned). He walked six batters and struck out five.
York 12, Tabor 7
KCAC Tournament, Thursday
In a rematch with the team that handed Tabor a pair of run-rule losses last month, the Bluejays suffered a tournament-opening defeat.
Tabor led, 5-2, through two innings, scoring three runs off two hits in the opening half-inning, including Jordan Harris’ two-run double, then, after York scored two in the bottom half of the inning, plated two runs off three hits and an error in the second inning. Kyle James hit a sacrifice fly, and Harris, a two-out RBI double.
But York’s offense began to gain speed, roughing up starter Nathan Arruda for a third-inning solo home run, followed by a walk, then a two-run home run. Through three innings, the teams were tied at 5 apiece.
Tabor took its last lead when Alicea hit a fourth-inning two-run home run, but York plated three runs in the frame. Billy Damon hit his second home run in as many innings to key the effort.
The Panthers scored two runs in the fifth inning, then single tallies in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Over the final five innings, Tabor mustered three hits.
Damon went the distance for York to earn the pitching win, striking out 11 Bluejays. He helped his cause by hitting two solo home runs.
Arruda (4-2) absorbed the pitching loss. In two innings, he surrendered seven hits and five runs (all earned). He walked two batters and struck out three.
Coming—Tabor (41-15) will prepare for the NAIA Opening Round tournament it will host in Hutchinson next week. As one of nine tournament hosts, Tabor has earned an automatic bid. The tournament is scheduled to begin Monday and conclude next Thursday. Brackets will be released tomorrow.