Sophomore pitcher Nathan Bertness (McLennan Athletics courtesy photo.)
Sophomore pitcher Nathan Bertness got the save in MCC’s 3-1 win over San Jacinto on Saturday. (McLennan Athletics courtesy photo.)

GRAND JUNCTION, Co. – The McLennan Highlanders opened the JUCO World Series with a 3-1 win over the San Jacinto Gators this morning at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Highlander ace Jack Finnegan picked up the win on the mound with Nathan Bertness getting the save. Finnegan recorded nine strikeouts and gave up seven hits in seven innings. Bertness recorded three strikeouts and allowed one hit in two innings.

McLennan got on the board with one run in the top of the first as Kirby McGuire tripled and scored on a single by Dimas Ojeda.

?The Highlanders added another run in the fifth. Noah McGowan drew a walk and Mason George singled. Both runners advanced on an error by the San Jacinto right fielder. McGowan then scored on a sacrifice fly by McGuire.

McLennan’s final run came in the top of the ninth as James Rudkin doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Sydney Daley and scored on a single by George.

San Jacinto’s only run came in the top of the ninth as Dalton Davis walked, moved to second on a single by Garrett Luna, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by Jon Meyer and scored on a sacrifice fly by Austin Homan.

“We played well but I don’t think we played as crisply as we could,” said coach Mitch Thompson. “It took us awhile to get into the game. It’s obviously the biggest crowd we have played in front of this year. Today was a challenge, we are really excited to get out of here with the W.

“Jack was outstanding. The bigger the game the better Jack is, he is fearless out there,” said Thompson.

“I think we are good baseball team and we play the game right,” added Thompson.

The Highlander advance in the winner’s bracket and will play Monday at 8:30 p.m. (CST).

McLennan 3, San Jacinto 1

McLennan 100 010 001 – 3 9 1
San Jacinto 000 000 001 – 1 8 2

Jack Finnegan, Nathan Bertness (8) and Mason George. Riley Smith, Hudson Treu (8) and Brett Wright. WP: Finnegan; LP: Smith; SV: Bertness. Leading hitters – McLennan: Kirby McGuire (1-3, 3B, RBI), Dimas Ojeda (1-4, RBI) Brandon Grudzielanek (1-4, 2B), James Rudkin (2-4, 2B) and Mason George (2-4, RBI); San Jacinto: Austin Homan (2-4, RBI), Walker Pennington (2-4, 2B) and Dalton Davis (2-3). Record: McLennan 38-18 (19-13).