JAYS SECURE FIFTH STRAIGHT REGULAR-SEASON TITLE/Jays win three of four at Ottawa

Colton Moore fires a pitch Friday at Ottawa. Moore pitched 11⁄3 innings of relief in Tabor’s 5-2 victory. Tabor won three of four at Ottawa to conclude the regular season and clinch its fifth consecutive regular-season KCAC title.
Colton Moore fires a pitch Friday at Ottawa. Moore pitched 11⁄3 innings of relief in Tabor’s 5-2 victory. Tabor won three of four at Ottawa to conclude the regular season and clinch its fifth consecutive regular-season KCAC title.
Flexibility was the name of the game for the Tabor College baseball team’s regular-season finale at Ottawa last week.

The series was originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday, but was moved up a day because of weather.

Tabor swept the first two games Thursday, completed one game Friday before rain hit, then finished the series Sunday, taking three of four games.

“It’s hard to beat a team four times,” coach Mark Standiford said. “Obviously the team gets more knowledge of you every time you play.

“(Our) bats struggled all weekend, I thought. We didn’t swing it like we need to. The weather was a little bit of a factor. It was a little cooler and the wind (was) blowing in.”

Tabor won Game 1 of the Ottawa series Thursday, 11-2.

The Bluejays held a 5-0 lead before Ottawa got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Each team scored once in the fifth, then Tabor solidified the win by scoring two runs in the eighth and three in the ninth.

Thomas Longworth went the distance to earn the win. He scattered five hits and two runs (one earned) over nine innings, while walking three batters and striking out two.

Manny DeLeon drove in Tabor’s first run with a first-inning single and later scored on a Brave error in the two-run frame.

In the third inning, DeLeon delivered again, this time launching a three-run home run over the right field fence. The long ball also scored Michael Baca and AJ Shaw, who had reached base with a pair of singles to leadoff the half inning.

Joel Frias hit an RBI double in the fifth inning, while Colton Flax hit an RBI single in the eighth. Tabor’s second run in that inning scored via Baca’s sacrifice fly.

Kaden Cline keyed the three-run ninth inning with an RBI double.

DeLeon was 4-for-5 at-bat and had four RBIs.

Tabor won Game 2, 5-3.

The game was tied at 1 after the first inning. DeLeon keyed the frame with an RBI triple. Tabor took the lead for good by scoring two runs off one hit—an RBI double by DeLeon—and an error in the top of the third.

Ottawa drew within 3-2 through three innings, but Tabor maintained the lead by outscoring the Braves 2-1 in the fifth inning to conclude scoring for the game. Raulier Martinez highlighted the frame with a two-run single.

DeLeon was 2-for-2 and drove in two runs.

Dylan Algra earned the pitching win. He gave up six hits and two runs (both earned) in four innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out one. Tommy Sleva retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh and was credited with the save.

Friday began with a 5-2 Tabor victory in Game 1.

Tabor held a 2-1 lead heading into the ninth inning, but scored three runs to Ottawa’s one in the final frame to secure the win.

The Bluejays benefitted from three hits and two Brave errors in the ninth. Raulier Martinez worked a leadoff walk, stole second, then advanced to third and home via a pair of errors. AJ Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to score Tabor’s second run, and Michael Baca drove in the third with an RBI single.

Tabor tallied single runs in the fifth and sixth innings; Ottawa scored its first run in the sixth, setting up the final inning.

Haydon Mahe-Liessmann was 2-for-4 at-bat. Shaw drove in two runs.

Greg Turner earned the pitching win. He gave up six hits and one earned run in 71⁄3 innings of work. He walked two batters and struck out three.

In the final game of the series, Tabor gave up the lead and lost, 9-4, after a six-run sixth inning for the Braves.

The Bluejays scored three runs off four hits and an error in the opening inning. Shaw hit a leadoff double, then Baca singled. Alex Couch drove in the first run with a single. Baca scored on a wild pitch, and Martinez hit an RBI single to conclude scoring in the frame.

Ottawa tied the game by scoring three runs in the third inning, but Tabor jumped back in front in the fourth when Ryan Neufeld led off with a double and Couch later doubled to drive in a run.

However, Ottawa scored six runs off two hits—including a grand slam—and two errors in the sixth inning to take the lead.

Couch was 3-for-4 and had two RBIs. Martinez was 3-for-4 and drove in one run.

Jahaziel Cantu sustained the pitching loss. Pitching in relief, he gave up three runs (one earned) without surrendering a hit or securing an out. He walked one batter and struck out no one.

“We only scored four runs, so for a team that leads a lot of offensive categories, we need to do a better job of that,” Standiford said. “We left a lot of guys on base. We had the chance to break it open a couple times and weren’t able to do it. It was definitely a team loss.”

The Bluejays continue to seek consistency from their bullpen.

“Sometimes certain players get caught up in the moment and kind of let the moment overshadow what they’re actually trying to achieve,” Standiford said. “If we’re able to get past that, I think that they’re going to be able to have a lot more success.”

Tabor has secured its fifth-consecutive regular-season KCAC title with a 28-8 conference record.

York also finished 28-8, but Tabor owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning two of its first three games with the Panthers earlier this season.

Ryan Neufeld makes contact with the ball Sunday at Ottawa. Neufeld hit a double and was 1-for-3 at-bat in Tabor's 9-4 loss.
Ryan Neufeld makes contact with the ball Sunday at Ottawa. Neufeld hit a double and was 1-for-3 at-bat in Tabor's 9-4 loss.

The Bluejays are 41-14 overall.

Coming—Tabor has secured the No. 1 seed in the KCAC tournament at the Great Bend Sports Complex. The Bluejays will face No. 6 Bethany today at 11 a.m.

With a win, Tabor would play the loser of No. 3 Ster­ling and No. 4 Oklahoma Wesleyan Thursday at 3 p.m.

The third first-round game features No. 2 York and No. 5 Kansas Wesleyan.

The tournament features a double-elimination format. The championship will be played Saturday.“I would compare this conference tournament to any regional we’re getting ready to go play,” Standiford said. “Any team could win it of these six teams. It’s going to be a grind again, just like the conference was.”