GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO
Iowa Western Baseball's run at the JUCO World Series ended on a sour note Saturday night in front of 9,203 fans at Sam Suplizio Field. Central Arizona (50-20, 5-1 JUCO) battled back from a 7-run 1st inning deficit to score 12 unanswered runs in Game 19 of the NJCAA postseason tournament. The Vaqueros hammered opposing pitching in the postseason, scoring double figures in 8 of 9 postseason games played. The only game held below that mark was the Reivers 14-4 win in Game 13 of the tournament.
The Reivers (52-11, 4-2 JUCO) pounded out 6 hits in a 7-run inning to chase Vaqueros starter Jonathan Stroman after just 2/3 innings of work. Shortstop Cooper Bowman and left fielder Caleb Balgaard both worked walks from Stroman before 1st baseman Ronald Sweeny III singled to score Bowman. Sophomore right fielder Gibson Krzeminski singled to bring home Balgaard and the Reivers led 2-0. Catcher Jaden Rolffs then hammered a first pitch 3-run homer to right center to plate both Krzeminski and Sweeny to make the score 5-0 Reivers. Isaiah Peterson followed with a double before Stroman finally earned an out, striking out both Greg Bennett and Ross Indlecoffer. With Peterson on 2nd and two away, Colin Kasperbauer blasted a 2-run double to plate Peterson. Bowman's second at-bat of the inning earned the freshman an RBI as he followed with another 2-out double to score Kasperbauer for the final tally of the inning. Stroman gave way to Mitchell DeCovich who struck out Balgaard to end the top half of the inning with the Reivers up 7-0. Central Arizona's high powered offense would go to work in the bottom half of the inning as right fielder Hunter Jump capped a 4-run outburst with a 3-run homer.
DeCovich silenced Reiver bats for 5-innings, giving up only 2-hits through the 7th, while his offense rallied for a single run in the 2nd inning and took the lead in the 3rd when the Vaqueros scored 6-runs on just 2 hits to take a 3-run lead after 3. Walks continued to haunt the Reivers as they issued seven more free passes on the night and another pair of hit batsmen. Liam Spence blasted a 2-run homer for Central Arizona in the 5th after the Reivers nearly turned a triple play. Pitcher Jayden Kruse dove to catch a pop-up on a bunt attempt and wheeled to eliminate the lead runner at 2nd base on a throw to Bowman. Bowman's relay was just short of completing the rare defensive gem to Sweeny at 1st base. A batter later, the Vaqueros shortstop hammered home 2 runs for a 12-7 Central Arizona lead.
The Reivers managed only 1 run the rest of the way, a sacrifice fly by Sweeny that plated Bowman in the 6th, a run that CAC matched in the bottom half on a solo blast by Ernny Ordonez. Iowa Western left the bases loaded in the 7th and a pair of runners on in the 8th as they failed to chip in the lead.
DeCovich earned his 2nd win of the tournament, while Jared Simpson was tagged with the loss.
The Reivers finished with 50 plus wins for the 9th time in school history and are now 36-34 all-time in Grand Junction in 19 appearances.
Sweeny was named the tournament's best hitter, finishing with a .625 batting average, driving in 9 RBI and scoring 7 runs. He also walked 5 times and was hit by a pitch twice.
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