Grand Junction, Colorado
A thrilling ride came to a close for Iowa Western Baseball Tuesday evening at the 2018 NJCAA D1 JUCO World Series. Facing elimination, the Reivers fell down 6-0 and 8-2 early before battling back to tie Chipola College at 10 in the bottom of the 5th.
Trailing 6-0, the Reivers picked up 2 runs in the 2nd on a sacrifice fly by John Hawk to score Ross Indlecoffer and a steal of home by Cole Evans. Chipola would build their lead to 8-2 in the 4th when the bats really came alive for the Reivers. Hagen Holmstead walked and 2 batters later Kobe Hyland singled to put 2 runners on. Ronald Sweeny followed with a 4-pitch walk before Brandon Bena drove a pitch off of the netting in front of the scoreboard at Sam Suplizio field to close the gap to 8-6 on a grand slam homerun.
The defending champs increased the lead back to 4 in the top of the 5th with another pair of runs off of reliever Keaton Winn, the 2nd pitcher out of the 'pen for the Reivers. John Hawk singled to start the bottom of the inning followed by another single by Hagen Holmstead. With runners at the corners, leadoff hitter Tyler Reichenborn single to center to score Hawk to close the deficit to 3. Shortstop Kobe Hyland then drove a 3-1 pitch high over the rightfield wall to tie the game at 10.
After the Indians regained an 11-10 lead in the 6th, the Reivers finally held Chipola scoreless for the first time in the Top of the 7th. In the bottom half, Iowa Western began the inning with Benjamin Sneider and Ross Indlecoffer drawing walks. Gibson Krzeminski pinch hit for Isaiah Peterson who had entered as a defensive replacement for Cole Evans earlier in the game. Krzeminski laid down a sacrifice attempt that was fielded by Chipola reliever Jose Visaez and thrown to 3rd base. The throw appeared to pull the foot of 3rd baseman Julio Carrion off the bag, but pinch runner Ryan Sullivan was called out on the play. Replays by Iowa Western Television confirmed that Carrion's foot was indeed off the bag when the out call was made, however the call stood on the field. Chipola removed Visaez for Jared Howell after the play and promptly walked the bases loaded when Hawk trotted to 1st on a 3-1 pitch. Following the walk, Howell attempted to pick off Indlecoffer at 3rd, but the throw sailed off the wall near the Reivers' bullpen and out into left field. On the play, Indlecoffer and Krzeminski scored to give the Reivers their first lead of the game at 12-11. Holmstead reached on an infield single to again place runners at the corners with only 1 out. A double steal attempt sent Holmstead to 2nd, but Hawk was thrown out 2-4-2 for the inning's 2nd out. Tyler Reichenborn then struck out looking to end the threat.
Another scoreless inning for Chipola in the 8th paved the way for a Brandon Bena double to score pinch runner Gregory Bennett in the bottom half, giving Iowa Western a 13-11 lead into the 9th. Breyden Eckhout, in relief of Keaton Winn, pitched the scoreless 8th and induced a groundout before striking out Jordan Hollins for the inning's 2nd out. Chipola, down to their final out of the season, got a walk from 9-hole hitter David Meadows before leadoff hitter Edmond Americaan was hit by a pitch. Francisco Urbaez then hit a slow grounder to 3rd base that Ross Indlecoffer was unable to come up with. Ruled an error by the official scorer, the play loaded the bases for Chipola. Shortstop Morgan McCullough then followed with a 2-run single to tie the game at 13. In the bottom of the 9th, a single in the 1st at bat of the game by Reiver shortstop Cole Albers nearly scored Hagen Holmstead from 2nd base to win it, but a perfect toss from Chipola leftfielder David Meadows sent the game into extras tied at 13.
In the 10th, it was Chipola DH turned pitcher Jared Howell's turn to make good on his error earlier in the game. A 1-out double placed him into scoring position. Howell tagged up on Julio Carrion's long flyout to center and scored 2 batters later on a wild pitch to give Chipola the 14-13 lead. In the bottom half, Ronald Sweeny was hit by a pitch to put the Reivers' leadoff hitter on base for the 9th time in 10 innings, but reliever Trevor Holloway came in to erase the threat. Holloway struck out Brandon Bena, induced a sharp flyball out by Ryan Sullivan and struck out Ross Indlecoffer swinging on a full count pitch to end the game.
The Reivers finish the season with a final record of 54-7 overall and 1-2 at the JUCO World Series. The Reivers are now 32-32 all-time in Grand Junction in 18 appearances with 3 National Championships (2010, 2012, 2014).