WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - In a game that featured two of the best pitchers in the Jayhawk Conference in Cowley freshman Cole Larsen and Barton sophomore Josh Hendrickson, the second-seeded Cougars outlasted the top-seeded Tigers 9-3 in Tuesday's Central District Region VI Champion game to advance to play at the JUCO World Series May 26-June 2 in Grand Junction, CO.
The Cougars (47-13) defeated Cowley (45-11) twice in the championship after losing to the Tigers by a score of 6-5 on Sunday.
Tuesday's championship game was closer than the final score as Cowley trailed just 4-3 heading to the ninth inning. However, a crucial error and a three-run homer by Barton's Carson Engroff helped the Cougars plate five runs in the top of the ninth.
Both pitchers in Tuesday's matchup were coming off complete game shutouts in their first start of the tournament.
Josh Hendrickson, a 6'4" left-handed sophomore from Australia that broke Barton's school-record for wins and strikeouts in a season, got the call on the mound for the Cougars and tossed 7 2/3 innings to improve his record to 11-2 on the season.
Hendrickson struck out seven and walked none.
Cole Larsen, a 6'1" freshman right-hander from Concordia, KS, made his sixth start of the season for the Tigers and entered the game with a 0.90 earned run average. He pitched into the ninth inning before being relieved by Ryan Westerhoff after allowing a lead off single to Drew Pomeroy. Larsen allowed seven hits and five runs in eight innings of work.
Larsen retired the first seven batters he faced before walking a pair of batters and surrendering a two-run double to Carson Engroff and an RBI double to Brett Bonar to put Cowley in a 3-0 hole heading into the bottom of the third inning.
Cowley put runners at first and second with only one out in the bottom of the third but failed to score.
Larsen kept the Tigers within reach by tossing three straight scoreless innings before Cowley finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth. After managing only two hits in the first five innings, Cowley got singles from Devin Beard and Grady Davenport before Kea'von Edwards drove in Beard with a two-out single to right field to cut Barton's lead to 3-1.
However, Kevin Rolon grounded out to short to strand runners at first and third.
Barton got the run back in the top of the seventh inning when Paul Claassen, the ninth batter in the Cougar lineup, homered to left field.
Cowley put the lead off runner on base in the fifth through eighth inning and it finally paid off when Kea'von Edwards hit a two-out two-run double down the right field line to pull the Tigers within 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The hit chased Hendrickson from the game as Dawson Pomeroy moved over from third base to pitch. Pomeroy got Kevin Rolon to ground out to second base to strand Edwards at second.
Only one of the Cougars' five runs in the ninth was charged to Larsen, while two runs were charged to Ryan Westerhoff and two more to reliever Brannon Jordan, who surrendered the homer to Engroff.
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