Hillcats Headed to Idaho
HUTCHINSON, Kan. - The third-seeded Rogers State baseball team defeated fourth-seeded Tabor College, 7-3, in the championship game at the NAIA Opening Round at Hobart-Detter Field. With the win, the Hillcats clinched their first berth in school history to the NAIA College World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
RSU led from start to finish in the championship game. After receiving the tournament bracket senior Lance Rymel inked in the Hillcats as champions and paid tribute to the late Hillcat pitcher, Tyler Brown. RSU won three straight games, defeating top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist, second-seeded Judson College and fourth-seeded Tabor to claim the World Series berth.
The Hillcats dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the first as Cody Campbell singled to shallow left field, sending Colton Campbell home after singling earlier in the inning and reaching third on an error by the centerfielder.
The Bluejays answered in the third as they plated a run with a two-out double down the left field line by Adam McCormick to knot the score 1-1.
Lance Rymel sliced a two-out RBI double down the right field line in the third to put the Cats back in front 2-1 in the bottom of the third.
The Hillcat infield committed consecutive one-out errors and Tabor capitalized, plating the tying run in the top of the fourth. However, RSU regained the lead in the fifth as the Cats drew consecutive two-out walks for Randy Ramirez who belted a two RBI double to the left-center field gap to make it a 4-2 game.
Tabor strung together three consecutive singles in the top of the eighth to load the bases with no outs. The Bluejays cut the RSU lead to 4-3 with a sacrifice fly to left field by Matt Cardona. The Hillcats got out of the inning in the next at-bat as Tanner Giffin grounded into a double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Keith Poverud hit a one-out double down the shallow right-field line and Brandon Bargas followed with a single to shallow left field to put runners on first and second. Baker belted a RBI double over the centerfielder’s head and Rivera hit a RBI ground out to increase the Hillcats lead. Colton Campbell rounded out the scoring with a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield to give RSU a 7-3 lead going into the ninth.
RSU starting pitcher Kyle Duncan (8-1) faced the minimum in the top of the ninth, ending the game with a strikeout to give RSU the win. The junior from Bedford, Texas allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk over nine innings.
Baker led the Cats at the plate as he went 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Bargas, Colton Campbell, Cody Campbell each tallied two hits apiece.
Tabor starting pitcher Alex Cole was tagged with the loss on the mound as he tossed 5.1 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits with one strikeout. Paul Sciacca led the Bluejay offense as he went 3-for-4 with one run scored.
Tabor played four games to reach the championship game and ended the season 44-16.
Rogers State (45-14) will await the bracket release for the World Series set for May 25-June 1 in Lewiston, Idaho.