Cloud County Sports
David Wilson, Sports Information Director
CHANUTE — The Cloud County Community College baseball team had its strong 2017 campaign come to an end on Sunday, falling 11-1 in seven innings to Neosho County Community College in Game Three of the two teams’ Region VI Playoffs matchup.
After a signature win in Game Two on Saturday to keep their season alive, the T-Birds (28-31 overall) ran out of steam a bit in Sunday’s series finale, due in large part to a gem tossed by the Panthers (39-20 overall) starting pitcher, Brennon Covington.
“We knew (Sunday) we were going to have to score to win and win an ugly game,” said Cloud County head coach, Eric Gilliland. “Thought we’d have to win a shootout, but their pitcher (Covington) did a really nice job not letting us do that. He worked both sides of the plate, kept us off balance and made it tough for us to score runs. It wasn’t the recipe we were looking for today.”
Covington went all seven innings, allowed one run on eight hits, and struck out seven while not walking a batter.
Cloud’s run came in the top of the third inning on a one-out RBI single by freshman outfielder, Matt Bondarchuk, who was 3-for-4 to lead the T-Birds’ lineup.
Unfortunately, the T-Birds’ bats were relatively silent after that, while the Panthers tacked on at least one run in every inning except the sixth en route to the 11-4 final.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise tremendous step forward for the Cloud County program in 2017. The T-Birds, coming off a nine-win season last spring, earned their most wins (28) since the 2009 season, and their victory on Saturday marked the first Region VI playoff victory for the program since 2006.
“I thanked the guys after for their total buy in from start to finish. We challenged them to change the culture here and set a foundation for future years, regardless of wins,” Gilliland said. “It was great to have a bunch of guys buy in and a great coaching staff (Eric Dorton, Kody Sindelar and Ryan Wilkinson) that helped run off a plan that I think exceeded a lot of people’s expectations as far as wins and losses. I certainly think that they have a lot to be proud of and I hope we can continue that into future seasons.”
Cloud County will say goodbye to over a dozen sophomores or redshirt freshmen in the offseason, including the team’s home run and RBI leader Kolton Meyer (13 HRs, 47 RBI), power bat Jacob Grady (6 HRs, 36 RBI), starting catcher Garrett Graveline and five sophomore pitchers who started four or more games this season in Nick Wordekemper, David Johns, Gabriel Jacobo, John Stiger and Drew Scrimsher.
While replacing the impactful sophomore class will be difficult, Gilliland said he is optimistic about what the T-Birds can do next season with their incoming recruiting class and returning freshmen. That includes Bondarchuk, the single-season hits leader in Cloud County history (84) and singles leader (72), Game Two heroes Patrick Rosborough and Tauren Langley, and a laundry list of other freshman pieces that made immediate impacts during the spring.
“My challenge to the guys was; the difficult part now is sustaining what we have in place, the type of mentality we have in place, and the culture that is building,” Gilliland said. “I don’t think that ever stops building. The minute we think we’ve arrived or made it and stop working is when we can get in trouble. The goal now for our returning group, which is a huge one, is to find a way to take the next step.”