Pair of close tourney losses end Nunez’s season
HAMMOND – Cole Stromboe’s pinch-hit single scored Jacob Singletary from second base with the winning run in the bottom-of-the-ninth as Delgado Community College escaped with a 4-3 victory over Nunez Community College in an opening round game of the NJCAA Division I Region 23 conference tournament Friday evening at Alumni Field.
It was Stromboe’s second game-winning walk-off hit of the day and propelled the Dolphins into the Saturday driver’s seat of the tournament. The loss brought a disappointing end to the Pelicans’ 2023 season.
Earlier in the day’s opener, Baton Rouge Community College rallied for 3 runs in the top of the ninth inning, and closer Slade Zeppuhar then struck out the side in the bottom half, as the Bears took Game 1 by a score of 6-4. The game was sloppily played with a combined 5 errors, 5 wild pitches, 13 walks, and 4 hit-batters, with 3 Nunez errors and a passed ball resulting in half of the BRCC runs being unearned.
GAME 1 – BATON ROUGE 6 NUNEZ 4 (9 innings)
After a 35-minute rain delay in the top of the first inning, Baton Rouge jumped on the scoreboard as they loaded the bases on a passed ball on a dropped third strike, infield single, sacrifice, and walk, with Braden McLin’s line single scoring the lead 2 runners. Nunez countered in the bottom half with a run as Kyle Landry opened with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Collin Zeringue’s hard smash off the first-sacker’s glove.
The Bears made it 3-1 in the second on a walk, infield error, hit-by-pitch, and sacrifice fly. Then, after leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, the Pels tied it in the fourth as, after 2 were out, they loaded the bases on a pair of hit-batters around Noah Detillier’s hard-ground single into left. Landon Manson then scored Landry and Detillier with a hard-ground single up the middle to tie the game at 3-3.
And so it stayed into the eighth inning, as after again leaving the bases full in the seventh, the Pelicans were able to scratch across the lead run as Dylan Jimenez opened with a line single to left, and 2 outs later, Detillier, whose line drive double the inning before just missed getting out off the top of the wall, doubled again just inside the left field line to move Jimenez to third. Then, after Zeringue was intentionally walked, Jimenez came sliding home head-first on a pitch in the dirt to give Nunez a 4-3 lead. But Zeppuhar entered the game at this point and ended the inning with a strikeout as the Pels again left-em loaded.
The winning Baton Rouge rally started as Collin Dupre singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Ethan Menard’s hard-ground single, with Menard taking second on the throw. John Touchet then reached on a fielder’s-choice-safe at third as Menard advanced. Cole Joyner next put the Bears on top 5-4 with a line single to right. Then, one-out later, McLin scored Joyner, who had moved around to third on a fielder’s choice and wild pitch, with a sacrifice fly to center for a big insurance run. Nunez reliever Cole Bordes then got a strikeout to end the inning with no further damage.
Sophomore Levi Brewster got the final start of his Nunez career, going 5 innings and yielding just 2 hits, no earned runs, and striking out 6. Ira Austin pitched 3 solid innings in relief, with 1 hit, no earned runs, and 2 kayos. Freshmen Andre Roux and Bordes shared the mound duties in the ninth. For BRCC, Ethan Prescott pitched 6.2 innings, and was followed on the hill by TJ Tomas and Zeppuhar, who struck out all 4 batters he faced to picked up the win.
Detillier led Nunez at the plate, going 3-for-4 with those 2 doubles, whileMcLin went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s for BRCC.
BRCC – 210 000 003 – 6 6 3
Nunez – 100 200 010 – 4 7 2
Prescott, Thomas (7), Zeppuhar (8) and Joyner.
Brewster, Austin (6), Adr Roux (9), Bordes (9)
and Manson. W- Zeppuhar L-Adr Roux
2B – Detillier 2. SF – McLin, Touchet.
GAME 3 – DELGADO 4 NUNEZ 3 (9 innings)
The Dolphins plated the game’s first 2 runs in the bottom of the first on Josh Alexander’s 1-out solo homer, followed by a pair of walks and throwing error on the back-end of a double play attempt on Jhonnatan Ferrebus’ grounder that allowed Jacob Singletary to race home with the second run.
The Pelicans were able to cut it to one on Zeringue’s line shot homer that, like Alexander’s clout, cleared both fences in right field.
The game then moved scorelessly to the sixth when the Dolphins plated a big unearned insurance run as, after Nunez starter Landon Cortez, now in his sixth inning of solid work, fanned the first 2 batters, Jake Kaufman drew a walk, stole second, and moved to third as the throw to second sailed into centerfield. Two more Pelican errors then kept the inning alive: first a dropped foul pop-up, followed by a throwing error on Cade Pregeant’s infield grounder.
Now down 3-1, Nunez was able to get that run back in the top of the seventh as Payton Cooper walked and moved to third on a throwing error at second on Alex Crews’ grounder. James Bendeck then plated Cooper with an RBI- groundout to second that also advanced Crews. But Delgado reliever Tyler Velino, who had entered earlier in the inning, struck out the final 2 batters to keep the score at 3-2.
Cortez completed 7 innings on the hill, yielding just one earned run on Alexander’s homer, while striking out eight. Sophomore Colby Smith then was called in from the bullpen for the final time in his Pelican career, and recorded the first 2 outs in the bottom-of-the-eighth on a ground-out and fly out with no hits allowed, before giving way to Austin, who closed the inning with a strikeout in his second mound appearance of the day.
Now needing a run to stay alive in the top-of the-ninth and down to their final strike twice, Crews started a 2-out rally by drawing an 8-pitch base-on-balls. James Bendeck followed with a first-pitch clutch line single to center, and Jimenez followed by coming back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk to fill the sacks. Crews next raced home on a bouncing wild pitch in the dirt to tie the game at 3-3. Logan O’Neill was then summoned to the mound from his defensive position at second base, and proceeded to shut-off the remaining Nunez threat with an inning-ending strikeout.
The winning Delgado rally started as Singletary was hit-by-pitch with one out, and after a strikeout, moved to second on a wild-pitch. Stromboe then delivered his game-winner with an opposite-field liner to left, with Singletary racing hard around third and getting in with a hand-slap on the plate, barely avoiding Manson’s lunging tag.
Left-hander Turner Toms got the start for the Dolphins, going 6 innings and allowing 3 hits and one earned run, with 2 strikeouts.
Nunez – 000 100 101 – 3 4 4
Delgado – 200 001 001 – 4 4 1
(Two outs when winning run scored.)
Cortez, Smith (8), Austin (8) and Manson.
Toms, Velino (7), O’Neill (9) and Singletary.
W – O’Neill. L – Austin.
HR – Zeringue, Alexander.
In Friday’s middle game, Delgado defeated Baton Rouge 8-7 in 10 innings.
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