WICHITA — The Cowley College baseball team is returning to the Big Show.
In a battle between the top two seeds Saturday at the NJCAA Division I Region VI Tournament, the second-seeded Tigers whipped top-seeded Hutchinson 14-1 at Eck Stadium to capture the Region VI Central District title for the third time in the past four seasons and advance to the NJCAA Juco World Series, set for May 25 to June 1 in Grand Junction, Colo.
The Tigers (45-12) went undefeated in Wichita and were stellar in all phases of the game, outscoring four opponents 42-4.
“All the credit goes to our guys,” Cowley coach Dave Burroughs said. “They set the tone the first day of the tournament and just got better and better from there.”
The Blue Dragons (44-21) advanced to the title game by rattling off three straight wins out of the losers’ bracket. Hutchinson defeated Colby earlier Saturday 8-4.
Sophomore Kaid Karnes started on the mound for Cowley and went the first three innings before giving way to freshman Miguel Obeso (5-0), who struck out 10 in 4 2/3 dominant innings.
Freshman Dawson Linder started for Hutchinson and walked three batters in the first inning, leading to a pair of runs.
Cowley freshman shortstop Logan Steenstra led off the second inning with a single, advanced on a groundout, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another groundout to second by Cody Milligan.
The Tigers chased Linder after a leadoff single by Daniel DeSimone in the top of the third inning. Matt Delcambre took over in relief and stranded DeSimone at third.
Logan Sartori tripled off Karnes leading off the bottom of the third and scored on an RBI groundout by Dylan Nedved to cut Cowley’s lead to 3-1.
A double by Ryan Morris leading off the bottom of the fourth chased Karnes from the hill. Obeso struck out the first two batters he faced before getting Brian Skillman to ground out to shortstop to strand Morris at second.
Cowley increased the lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth when Parker Dunn singled, advanced on a wild pitch, moved to third on a balk by Delcambre and scored on an RBI groundout by George Specht.
The Tigers pulled away thanks to a two-run single by first baseman Daniel DeSimone in a five-run sixth to make the score 9-1.
Cowley tacked on another run in the seventh, and Cade Stephens cracked a two-run homer in the eighth to make it 12-1.
The Tigers plated two more runs in the ninth, then sophomores Jared Wilson, Ethan Swanson and Ryan Westerhoff came on in relief of Obeso to close the door with two scoreless innings.
Catcher Cody Milligan had two hits and scored three runs, and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tourney.
Milligan was joined on the All-Tournament team by left fielder Grady Davenport, and pitchers Brannon Jordan and Andrew Roach.
“We are swinging it really well and our pitchers are making pitches,” Milligan said. “It was a team effort. We just need to keep playing our game and see what happens.”
The Tigers will take a five-game winning streak to the Juco World Series.
“I look forward to our guys getting to experience Grand Junction,” Burroughs said.
The Tigers advanced to the title game Friday night with their third straight run-rule victory. This time, Cowley defeated fifth-seeded Colby 10-1.
Sophomore Andrew Roach (8-3) made it three straight stellar performances on the mound for the Tigers, allowing only three hits and one run in six innings.
Sophomore Kaid Karnes came on to pitch a scoreless seventh.
Tyler McWillie (2-5), the owner of an 8.36 ERA entering the game, started for the Trojans and retired the first five batters he faced before walking Specht. Stephens followed with a two-run homer.
The Trojans put two runners on with nobody out in the top of the third, but Enok Perez hit a sinking liner to right field that the Parker Dunn made a sensational diving catch on to record the first out of the inning. Roach then retired the next two batters to strand runners.
Catcher Cody Milligan led off the third inning with a double off the right field wall and scored on a one-out single by Grady Davenport. Specht followed with a two-run single.
The Tigers chased McWillie in the bottom of the fourth with runners at first and second and only one out.
Davenport greeted Colby reliever Duanne Johanssen with a two-run double and Daniel DeSimone followed with a run-scoring single to make it 7-0.
Roach surrendered only two hits through the first five innings before allowing a solo homer to Colby catcher Cameron Tilley with two out in the top of the sixth.
Davenport’s second double of the game drove in Carson Sader in the bottom half of the inning. Davenport scored two batters later on a single by Dunn, and Stephens doubled home Dunn to end it in walk-off fashion.
Davenport went 3 for 4, scored three and drove in four, while Stephens drove in three.
The Tigers played error-free ball in both games.
Cowley 10, Colby 1
Cowley 14, Hutchinson 1
Milligan c4321Sartori 2b4120
Sader 2b1100Nedved ss3001
Brothrs 2b1200Schmidt rf4010
Davenprt lf3101Metzger lf3000
DeSimn 1b6233Bowlin dh3000
Dunn rf4112 White pr0000
Specht 3b6002Moritz 3b3020
Stephns dh4123Baxley 1b4000
Steenstr ss4110McGuire c4000
Halstead cf4210Skillman cf3000
Karnes p0000 Craig ph1000
Obeso p0000Linder p0000
Wilson p0000 Dlcmbr p0000
Swansn p0000 ReyesJr p0000
Wstrhff p0000 Philbin p0000
E — Sartori. DP — Hutch 1. 2B — DeSimone, Schmidt, Morita. 3B — Sartori. HR — Stephens. SB — Halstead.
Obeso (W, 5-0)4.2100110
Linder (L, 2-1)233341
HBP — Karnes Obeso, Delcambre, Reyes Jr., Peterson. Time — 3:15. Att — 350.