GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KSNW) – The Cowley College Tigers lost 12-4 to Central Arizona in their opening game of the JUCO World Series Sunday afternoon.
Fifth-seeded Cowley College Tigers were run-ruled 12-4 by sixth-seeded Central Arizona.
The Vaqueros (49-7) advance to play Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. MT. The Tigers (46-9) will play Tuesday at 11 a.m. against the loser of the third-seeded San Jacinto-North and ninth-seeded Shelton State matchup.
On Sunday, Tiger starting pitcher J’Briell Easley ran into trouble in each of the first two innings, but ended up stranding a pair of runners in each inning thanks to five strikeouts.
Cowley would strike first as Bryce Madron singled off Central Arizona starting pitcher Mat Olsen leading off the bottom of the first inning and came around to score on a run-scoring groundout by catcher Gus Freeman.
Both starting pitchers entered the game unbeaten on the season with Easley being 9-0 and Olsen 11-0.
After striking out four batters in a row, Easley allowed a single to Dayton Dooney and then hit back-to-back batters to load the bases in the top of the third inning. The Vaqueros’ Jake Jarvis then hit what potentially could have been an inning-ending double play to shortstop David Herring, who was unable to field the ball cleanly allowing Dooney to score the tying run. Third baseman Tyler Griggs followed with a run scoring single and a wild pitch by Easley scored the third run of the inning for Central Arizona.
A bad hop triple to left field by Seth Beckstead would plate two more runs as the Vaqueros would score five runs in the inning.
“We gave them too many free bases and any time you give up big innings it’s hard to come back from,” Cowley head coach Darren Burroughs said. “We had a chance to turn a double play and get out of the inning and weren’t able to get that done and they made us pay.”
The Tigers would get two of the runs back in the bottom half of the inning when David Herring singled home Michelle Artzberger and Freeman to make the score 5-3.
However, the Vaqueros would strike again in the top of the fourth when Dusty Garcia belted a two-out, two-run homer off Easley to make the score 7-3.
Easley (9-1) struggled with his command, hitting three batters and walking two more as he was relieved on the mound by Miguel Fulgencio with a runner at second and one out in the top of the fifth inning. Easley allowed seven hits and eight runs in his 4 1/3 innings of work. The right-hander struck out six.
Preston Godfrey rudely greeted Fulgencio by hitting a one-hop RBI double off the centerfield wall on the left-handers’ first pitch.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Elijah Jackson singled and came around to score on an RBI triple by Felix Chenier-Rondeau to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 8-4.
However, a grand slam home run by Central Arizona’s Kiko Romero in the top of the seventh inning busted the game open.
Fulgencio allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Cole Miller came on to record the final out in the top of the seventh inning.
Olsen (12-0) was relieved after throwing more than 120 pitches. The righty allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings, while striking out eight and walking two.
“He was able to pitch out of some jams and made big pitches when he needed to,” Burroughs said.
Leo Palacios came on to pitch a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning to finish off the run-rule win for the Vaqueros.
Bryce Madron led the Tigers with two hits in the loss.
“We will clear our heads and put this game in the past,” Madron said. “We will regroup and be ready to play again.”
After a day off on Monday, the Tigers will look to bounce back on Tuesday.
“The great thing about this tournament is you get a second chance,” Burroughs said. “The day off will be big for us to regroup a little bit. We will be ready to get after it at 11 o’clock Tuesday.”