(McLennan Athletics courtesy photo)
(McLennan Athletics courtesy photo)

LUBBOCK – The McLennan Highlanders picked up two wins Monday in the Region V Baseball Tournament in Lubbock.
McLennan began the day with a 10-9 win over the New Mexico Thunderbirds in the elimination game with Chris Glover getting the win on the mound.

The Highlanders began the game on fire, scoring eight runs in the bottom of the first. Will Fox led off with a double. Kirby McGuire and Dimas Ojeda drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Brandon Grudzielanek was safe at first on an error, bringing Fox and McGuire in to score. Tucker Johnson followed with a single to score Ojeda and Grudzielanek. James Rudkin was safe at first on an error. Johnson and Rudkin both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Braxton Wilks and scored on a double by Noah McGowan. Jon Tauzin was safe at first on another error. Fox then singled to score McGowan, and Tauzin scored on a groudout by McGuire.

New Mexico got on the board with one run in the top of the second as Jacy Cave singled, moved to second on a groundout by Austin Botello, advanced to third on a fly out by Angel Vega and scored on a single by Jeff Deimling.

McLennan added two runs in the second. Grudzielanek and Johnson both singled. Rudkin followed with a fielder’s choice, scoring Grudzielanek. An error by the shortstop put Johnson on third and Rudkin on first. Johnson then scored on a fly out by Braxton Wilks.

The Thunderbirds scored four runs in the third. Luis Pintor walked and Brandon Greiger singled. Travon Benton followed with a single to score Pintor. Cave then doubled to score Greiger and Benton. Cave moved to third on a groundout by Botello and scored on a single by Vega.

New Mexico added two runs in the fifth. Cave and Vega both singled. Deimling followed with a single to score Cave. Vega moved to third on a balk and scored on a groundout by Zac Sanders.

The Thunderbirds rounded out the scoring with two runs in the sixth. Greiger was hit by the pitch and Benton walked. Both runners advanced on a ground out by Botello and came in to score as Vega was safe at first on an error.

The win over New Mexico advanced the Highlanders to the championship game against the Odessa Wranglers. The Highlanders defeated the Wranglers 10-7 to force a deciding regional championship game tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Odessa began the scoring with one run in the top of the second. Wesley Jordan doubled, Daniel Richardson singled and Andres Rios drew a walk to load the bases. Jorin Van Amstel also drew a walk, bringing Jordan in to score.

McLennan took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second. Grudzielanek and Johnson both singled. Rudkin then singled to score Grudzielanek. Mason George singled, bringing Johnson in to score. Rudkin then scored on an Odessa error.

The Wranglers took the lead with four runs in the fourth. Richardson and Rios both singled, and Cody French was hit by the pitch to load the bases. Reid Battles followed with a single to score Richardson. Van Amstel then singled to score Rios and French. Battles stole third and scored on a fly out by Owen Spiwak.

Odessa increased the lead with two runs in the fifth. Richardson tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Rios and French both walked. Battles then doubled to score Rios.

McLennan scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to seal the win. Grudzielanek singled and Rudkin was hit by the pitch. McGowan’s fielder’s choice was mishandled,  bringing Grudzielanek in to score and moving Rudkin to third. George followed with a fielder’s choice, scoring Rudkin and putting McGowan out at second. Sydney Daley followed with a bunt single. Another error brought George in to score. Fox drew a walk and McGuire singled to score Daley. Ojeda then singled to score Fox and McGuire.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our guys bounced back today,” said coach Mitch Thompson. “Yesterday was a disappointment for all of us, but today we really competed well when the chips were down.

“As always, it all starts on the mound. We had a bunch of guys really perform well today. Chris Glover battled hard today and Cole Ridgely was outstanding closing the first game.

“We jumped out to a big early lead and then had to show some poise as New Mexico battled back to make it a close game. I can’t say enough about Cole’s effort. He was marvelous!

“In the nightcap, we had to come back from a four run deficit to take the lead. Nathan Bertness gave us several good innings in a personal bounce back effort. I was very impressed with how he threw today after not throwing well yesterday. I loved his competitiveness. We then pieced together the relief with Zach Kornely, Jordan Mattlage, and Dustin Jourdan. Mattlage and Jourdan were very poised in getting the final outs.

“Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. Can’t wait to see these guys get after it again tomorrow.”

Odessa and McLennan will play in the championship game tomorrow at 1 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Junior College World Series to be held on May 23-30 in Grand Junction, Colorado.

McLennan 10, New Mexico 9
New Mexico 014 022 000 – 9 9 5
McLennan 820 000 000 – 10 10 3
Ian Doughty, Blake Walden (1), Fernando Fernandez-Beltran (2), Brett Worthen (8) and J.P. Rousseau. Chris Glover, Corey Watkins (6), Cole Ridgely (6) and Jon Tauzin, Mason George (8). WP: Glover; LP: Doughty; SV: Ridgely. Leading hitters – New Mexico: Travon Benton (1-4, RBI), Jacy Cave (3-4, 2B, RBI), Angel Vega (2-5, 3 RBI), Jeff Deimling (2-5, 2 RBI) and Zac Sanders (0-5, RBI); McLennan: Will Fox (2-4, 2B, RBI), Kirby McGuire (0-4, RBI), Brandon Grudzielanek (4-5, 2 RBI), Tucker Johnson (2-5, 2 RBI), James Rudkin (0-4, RBI), Braxton Wilks (0-4, RBI) and Noah McGowan (1-2, 2B, RBI). Record: McLennan 35-18 (19-13).

McLennan 10, Odessa 7
Odessa 010 420 000 – 7 9 3
McLennan 030 016 00x – 10 10 0
Ruben Renteria, Jacob Foitek (3), Ramon Arguelles (5), Christian Marquez (6) and Owen Spiwak. Nate Bertness, Zach Kornely (4), Jordan Mattlage (5), Dustin Jourdan (8) and Mason George. WP: Mattlage; LP: Arguelles; SV: Jourdan. Leading hitters – Odessa: Jorin Van Amstel (2-3, 2 RBI), Owen Spiwak (0-3, RBI), Wesley Jordan (1-4, 2B), Daniel Richardson (3-5, 3B) and Reid Battles (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI); McLennan: Kirby McGuire (2-4, 2 RBI), Dimas Ojeda (1-3, 2 RBI), Brandon Grudzielanekr (2-4), James Rudkin (2-3, RBI), Noah McGowan (0-4, RBI) and Mason George (1-3, RBI). Record: McLennan 36-18 (19-13).