By Heather Knobeloch
The Cougar baseball team made it to the NAIA National Championship Opening round for the second straight year, but sadly with the same results as last year, they were eliminated early into the tournament.
This year the Cougar baseball team won the American Mideast Conference Tournament to earn the right to go to the NAIA Tournament. They were placed in the Kingsport Bracket against four other teams. The opposing teams proved to be strong opponents, but the Cougars proved to be their own worst enemy in both games.
The first game took place on Thursday, May 12, in Kingsport, Tenn., where the fifth-seeded Cougars sent Kyle Barr to the mound against the fourth-seeded Iowa Wesleyan College. He gave up seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts over 8.1 innings. He was also the victim of three unearned runs. Darren Athey came in to finish the game and gave up three hits and four unearned runs. He only got one batter out. Steve Miller recorded the final out.
The Cougars gave up a total of seven unearned runs and that was the game.
The 5-1 lead the Cougars had at the end of seventh inning had been looking good. The lone Iowa run that had scored was an unearned run, thanks to a throwing error. The Cougars still had the lead going into the ninth inning, despite giving up a second unearned run in the eighth inning, but the two errors in the ninth inning proved to be deadly. They led to five unearned runs and a trip to the loser’s bracket.
Luckily for the Cougars, the NAIA Tournament is double elimination.
Their second game was Friday, May 13, against Indiana University Southeast.
Indiana was sent to the loser’s bracket when they fell to the number one seeded Union College 9-4.
Indiana was the number three seed.
The Cougars sent Grant Martin to the mound against Bo Daves. It was the pitching battle early on. The Cougars took an early lead in the fourth inning, after Kodi Veale and Jordan Doherty had back to back hits with two outs to drive in two runs.
The Cougars maintained the 2-0 lead until the sixth inning when Indiana tied up the game. Martin gave up two more runs including one due to wild pitches and the fourth run scored on a bad throw, which was coming towards the plate
Tim Harvey, gave his team a chance to come back by holding Indiana scoreless the last two innings but the Cougars could put nothing up on the board against Jacob Holtz and Joey Harness, who worked the last two innings out of the pen.
The Cougars season is not yet done.
They have been given a birth into the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament that starts Wednesday May 18. Their first game is against North Greenville at 2:30pm in Mason Ohio
(Written from Dave Parsons’ press releases)