May 26th, 2014
By Bruce Campbell, Staff WriterEnid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. — Saturday, Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s heart was broken in a walk off 3-2 loss to Southeastern Iowa in the first round of the NJCAA Division II College World Series.
Sunday, the Jets showed their hearts were still beating.
NOC Enid held on to eliminate a determined Westchester (N.Y.) 8-6 with a little help from the baseball gods that were somewhat cruel to them the day before.
The Vikings’ Steve Figueroa, with his team down 8-4 and runners on first and second with two outs, hit a deep drive to the right center wall.
Two runs came in on the play, but as Figueroa round second for third, he slipped. Jets shortstop Nick Yoning tagged him out to end the game and send NOC Enid (40-21) to a 3:30 p.m. date today against Mesa, a 9-0 winner over Lincoln Land.
“We knew today was going to be a grind,’’ said a happy NOC Enid coach Raydon Leaton. “We had our hearts taken yesterday in a tough game. This was a tough game mentally to get ready for. I’m proud of our guys for bouncing back and finding a way to win.’’
The Jets never trailed after scoring two runs in the second, but the Vikings wouldn’t go away. Westchester out hit NOC Enid 16-10, but left nine runners on base. They had a run on base in every inning,
Austin Hilton picked up the win with relief help from righthander Scotty Harvill. Hilton gave up 10 hits in six and two-third innings and allowed four runs. However, he walked only one batter and the Jets defense which committed six errors Saturday was virtually spotless.
“That was a good hitting ballclub,’’ Leaton said. “When Austin made a mistake, they made him pay. When Scotty made a mistake, they made him pay. We did the same thing to them. When you’re in survivor mode, you’re going to put some runs up.’’
The Jets, for the second straight game, benefited from a loud and boisterous home crowd.
“That was awesome,’’ said Jets left fielder Russ Colgan, who had a two-run homer in the fifth to give NOC Enid a 5-2 lead. “That was the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. It was a real good feeling.’’
“It was real important we got ahead early,’’ Leaton said. “We got a little momentum and the crowd got behind us. They were awesome. I think all the teams are enjoying the big crowds. But getting the runs gave us a little bit of confidence.’’
Colgan got his first hit of the Series when he slammed a pitch over the left field fence after Jerame Littell was hit by a pitch.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit,’’ he said. “I haven’t been seeing the ball that well. He threw a changeup and I was able to square it up and it went. We grinded it out today.’’
Freshman Korey Floyd of Shattuck was 2-for-3, including RBI double that scored Yoning with the first run in the second.
He scored three runs. He scored on a throwing error while going from second to third in the second. Floyd, after Colgan’s homer in the fifth, singled, stole second and scored on a balk. He scored the Jets’ final run in the seventh on a single by Dyce Applegate.
Littell and Yoning both scored twice for the Jets. Littell doubled in the third and scored on a Dillon Harp single. Yoning, who had two hits, scored in the seventh on a Harp ground out.
“It was a lot more fun today,’’ Littell said. “I swung the bat OK today, but it was a total team effort. That was the key today. We got off to a good start and we were able to keep it up for the rest of the game.’’
Westchester’s Justin Casinelli was three-for-five with two RBI, including a solo homer in the second. Fabio Ricci and Figueroa were both 3-for-5. Matt Cassinelli was 2-for-5 and scored twice.
Figueroa kept the Vikings within striking distance by retiring the last eight batters he faced in his first relief pitching stint of the season.
After the Jets lost on a two-run homer by Southeastern Iowa’s Don Ferguson in the bottom of the 10th Saturday, things did get a little tense when Ricci and Justin Cassinelli had back-to-back singles in the ninth and Figueroa delivered an extra-base hit before he slipped.
“We have to make things interesting,’’ Colgan said. “As long as we win, that doesn’t matter.’’
“I wasn’t nervous,’’ Littell said. “I knew our pitchers were going to come through and we would play good enough defense behind them. We’re taking it one game at a time. We have to come back and play well tomorrow.’’
Leaton, after yesterday’s 3-2 loss, would take any win.
“Today’s winner was going to be the team who wanted it the most,’’ he said. “It was a test of wills. Both teams played hard and had a chance to win. We were fortunate their guy stumbled and they didn’t get another at-bat. We’ll take it anyway we can get it. We’ll take the same approach today.’’