With the Pirate offense sputtering of late, the pitching and defense have had to step up to keep the Pirates in the number 2 spot in the ACCC Central.
With runs hard to come by against nationally ranked # 2 Central Alabama, Patrick Olvaney launched a bottom of the 7th, 2 out game tying homer, setting the stage for Dominique Smedley’s game winning, steal of home in extra innings to earn the Pirates a 3-2 win in game 2 after dropping game 1, 3-1.
Zach Helewski took the mound in game 1 and took a hard luck loss, in which he pitched a gem in 7 innings of work. He scattered 6 hits and struck out 5 and surrendered 2 runs after giving up two, 2 out free passes in the third with the Pirates clinging to a 1-0 lead. With that being the only damage Helewski allowed, the Pirate offense simply could not muster any run support for the sophomore right hander.
CVCC jumped on the board early, as Martin Castro and Dominique Smedley led of the bottom of the first inning with back to back singles. David Levy’ sacrifice bunt gave way to an RBI ground out by Kendell Brinson. Unfortunately, the Pirates never really threatened again, as CVCC only had one more baserunner advance to second base the remainder of the game. Castro and Josh Sanders collected 4 of the Pirates 5 hits on the day, as the both had 2 hit games.
Game 2 was much of the same for both teams – great pitching and great defense, and very little offense. Clint “Big Cat” Spratlin got the start in game 2 and pitched a beauty of his own, tossing 6 1/3 of 3 hit baseball, surrendering only a single run in the 5th, tying the game at 1 all.
Once again, the Pirates struck first, with a leadoff walk by Nick Jones in the fourth, that led to a 2 out RBI double by Taylor Hinshaw, 2 batters later. The lead was short lived, as once again, a pair of 2 out free passes allowed CACC to turn the lineup over and a 2 out hit allowed the tying run to cross.
Dustin Dunagan came in relief of Big Cat in the top of 7 to retire the final 2 hitters. The next half frame saw CVCC waste a golden opportunity for the walk off win, in which Hinshaw led off with a single, giving way to pinch runner, Dominique Smedley. Smedley advanced to 2nd on a sac bunt, followed by a walk to Jared Kahn. Unfortunately, Martin Castro bounced into a fielders choice for out 2, and Luke Ewing struck out to the end the inning and the game ending threat.
The Trojans took the lead and what looked like the game in the extra inning 8th, collecting 3 hits in the frame. With a 2-1 lead and 2 outs, and their starter cruising and still in the game, Pat Olvaney absolutely crushed a 2 out fastball over the right field wall to knot the game at 2 apiece.
CACC once again threatened in their half of the 9th, but CVCC pulled a “strike ’em out, throw ’em out”, with Dunagan and catcher Neal Chambless to stiffle the threat. This set the stage for the exciting finish in the Pirate half of the 9th. Smedley led of the inning with a single and was advanced to 2nd on Chambless’ sac bunt. Kahn then delivered what appeared to be the game winning hit, but the CACC shortstop made a great play keeping the ball on the infield, preventing Smedley from scoring. With runners on the corner, the crowd witnessed arguably the most confusing play of the season. Martin Castro hit a shallow fly ball to left, not deep enough to score the winning run, and the CACC left fielder, running in to catch it, dropped the ball. Smedley stayed put at 3rd base, while Kahn, not knowing he dropped it, retreated to first. The throw went home and then to second base to nail Kahn for the fielder’s choice and the 2nd out of the inning.
Once again, the Pirates looked to have spoiled a golden opportunity to win the game. However, with 2 strikes on JD Perry, the Trojan pitcher bounced a curve ball that only scooted about 15 feet away from the catcher. Without hesitation, Smedley broke from third base and stole home for the walk off win, securing the extra inning split.
The Pirates finally hit the 30 win plateau, marking the 10th consecutive year in which CVCC has won at least 30 games, as their record sits at 30-21 on the year and 16-12 in division play. CVCC will travel to Southern Union on Tuesday for a 2:00 matchup that, for all intensive purposes, is a playoff game to decide 2nd place in the ACCC Central Division.