Baseball

Recap of the Tuscon Invitation Games for Pioneer Baseball

MCC goes 6-3 on the week before heading into conference play.

Box Score

(Tuscon, AZ) Miles Community College hit the road for Tuscon, AZ for a slate of 9 games in the annual Tuscon Invitation Games held at the Kino Sports Complex.

MCC entered the spring break trip after four losses to Western Nebraska College in February and will be outside on the field for only the second time this season.

“Weather definitely plays a factor in our progression early in the season,” said head coach Jeff Brabant, “we do what we can to maximize our reps while inside but there is no comparison to the on field reps we will get while down in Tuscon.”

The on field reps for the Pioneers were in abundance throughout the week. Some Arizona sunshine and nine games over six days put the team to the grindstone as they look to build some momentum into their Region IX Empire Conference schedule.

“Tuscon is a great opportunity for us to find an identity as a team,” said coach Brabant about the week of games, “we get to see guys in different spots both offensively and defensively and get to see how they respond. With the great weather and competition, it’s a great opportunity for our sophomores to find their form and for our freshman to get their feet wet before jumping into conference schedule.”

Game 1 MCC vs. Malone College

Sophomore starter Jake Lowery got the call for his first start of the year against Malone College out of Canton, OH. Lowery struggled with command early allowing two runs in the bottom half of the first but would find his form and go on to throw three scoreless innings following while striking out two.

The Pioneer offense wouldn’t wait to get started as they would answer the Malone two run first with runs in the second and third inning jumping out to a 3-2 lead.

The Pioneers wouldn’t look back as they would go on to score 13 runs in the next four innings and allow just two runs the rest of the game.

With a 19 hit performance by the Pioneers, six Pioneers (TJ Booth, Luke Cathey, Nolan Darr, Porter

Lowery would earn his first win of the season on the mound allowing just 2 ER through 4 IP. Jonathan Ringer, Cody Frenk, and Logan Decock would slam the door out of the bull pen in the late innings as the Pioneers picked up their first win of the week with the 16-4 victory.

Game 2 MCC vs. Malone College

Freshman Mitch Hughson would get the nod for the second game of the TIG. The start was the first for the Australian native in a Pioneer uniform and he wouldn’t disappoint.

After a shaky three run first inning, Hughson would settle down the first game jitters and toss four solid innings for the Pioneers while striking out five allowing just one earned run and silencing any Malone threats after the first inning.

With a three run hole, the Pioneers answered in the bottom of the first with a two spot of their own. RBI double by sophomore TJ Booth would cut the deficit to one.

Freshman Rocco Arguto would draw an RBI walk in the bottom half of the third to knot the game at three.

Freshman Tyson Black would make his second appearance this season and toss two perfect innings and sophomore reliever John Preller would make his first outing of the season in the top half of the seventh and slam the door on the Malone offense setting the table for the Pioneer offense in the bottom half of the seventh.

A leadoff single by Ty Jones, followed up by a stolen base put him in scoring position for Braxton Boyle. After working his way to a 3-1 count, Boyle would smoke a fastball into deep left field just shy of the wall and Jones would cruise home for the walk off 4-3 win for MCC.

John Preller would get the win for the Pioneers improving to 1-0 on the season, and Braxton Boyle and Ty jones would lead the offense with two hits apiece. Jones would also swipe two bases and score twice in the game.

Game 3 MCC vs Northern State University

After a nail biter in game one of the day, the Pioneers would find themselves in another dog fight in the afternoon.

Sophomore Shane Groth would get the call for his first appearance on the mound this season and his first in a blue uniform for MCC.

The Sophomore would shine for three innings allowing just one run but would run into some trouble in the fourth inning. Groth would walk two and give up a base hit as the Wolves jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Cody Eaton would relieve Groth in the fourth and work the Pioneers out of a bases loaded jam but not before the Wolves would tack on one more run.

The Pioneer offense would struggle to get going but found some life in the top half of the sixth. A four run inning, thanks in part to a bases two run single by TJ Booth and an RBI double by Dakota Crowe and Dustin Caplett, the Pioneers would jump out to a two run lead.

Northern State would answer in the bottom half of the sixth after a couple MCC blunders on defense and take the lead into the seventh inning.

The Pioneers would answer with a one run top half after another RBI single from Booth and the Pioneers would look to force extra innings with a clean bottom half.

MCC’s John Preller would take the hill for the seventh and after a lead off strikeout, the wolves would string together two straight singles to put a runner in scoring position. A Flare down the left field line would find green grass and the Pioneers would drop a heartbreaker 8-7 for their first loss of the weekend.

Preller would pick up the win in game one and the loss in game two to bring his season record to 1-1. TJ Booth would have a stellar game two at the dish with five RBI’s.

Game 4 MCC vs. Riverland Commuity College

Game four of the weekend would prove to be a defensive battle against Riverland CC. Freshman transfer Beau Thomas took the hill in his debut outing for the Pioneers. The crafty lefty put together a strong showing for the Pioneers tossing seven innings allowing just one earned run and striking out eight.

Thomas’s showing on the mound was matched by Riverland’s Xavier Ocasio. The two starters battled into the sixth inning but the Pioneers would break the ice with solo homerun from Braxton Boyle, his first of the season.

Riverland CC would answer with run in the top half of the seventh to break up Thomas’s shutout and after a scoreless half inning for the Pioneers at the plate, the game would head into extras.

Thomas would take the hill in the eighth but would later be relieved by sophomore Cody Frenk. Frenk would strike out one and retire the side but not before an RBI single by Mairion Brunken that would break the tie.

Trailing by one into the bottom half of the eighth MCC would start a rally. Vinny smith would draw a leadoff walk, Porter Marley would reach on an error, and Braxton Boyle would draw a walk loading the bases for TJ Booth. The sophomore delivered with a rocket to the left side that was misplayed by the Riverland SS. Smith would score easy from first, and pinch runner Mario Del Bosque III would beat the throw to the plate capping the extra inning walkoff and giving MCC the 3-2 victory.

Cody Frenk picked up the win in relief after a strong outing from the bullpen and Braxton Boyle would lead the offense with his solo blast in the sixth inning.

Game 5 MCC vs Anoka Ramsey College

MCC would head into the night cap against Anoka Ramsey in game five of the trip.

Freshman Parker McRae would get his first start as a Pioneer against the Golden Rams. McRae struggle with command but made pitches when he needed to. The Freshman didn’t have much help on defense as all five runs he would give up in his four innings would be unearned. McRae would get the hook after four and Freshman Macka Pearson would take the hill in his second outing of the year.

Pearson struggled in his debut against Western Nebraska but bounced back with a vengeance. The freshman righty faced one hitter over the minimum in his three innings of work. Pearson struck out six and walked just one without allowing a hit to earn the win out of the bull pen.

With Pearson cruising on the mound in the late innings, the bats woke up for MCC. The Pioneers put together a six run sixth and a two run seventh to take a commanding five run lead. A perfect seventh inning for Pearson would cap the four run comeback and the Pioneers would complete the day sweep with the 10-5 win.

Pearson picked up his first collegiate win while McRae picked up a no decision. The two combined for 13 strikeouts on the day against just two walks.

MCC was led offensively by Jonathan Ringer, Sam Haug, and Vinny Smith. Ringer would triple in his first and second at bats of his collegiate career. Haug would fall just a homerun short of the cycle while tallying two RBIs. Smith would drill a bases clearing triple in a pinch hat at bat that broke the game open in the sixth.

Game 6 MCC vs Anoka Ramsey College

After back to back wins on Monday the Pioneers were due for a blunder. That blunder came in game six of the week.

Freshman Ty Jones would get the nod in his second start of the year. The Utah native had a great first outing in Scottsbluff in MCC first weekend of the year but would struggle to find his bearings on Tuesday.

Jones would allow five runs, 4 earned, on eight hits while striking out 4. The freshman made good pitches but the Golden Rams found the holes in the defense and the ball was bouncing against the Pioneers for seven innings.

Anoka Ramsey starter Parker Janske would throw four strong innings and pass the torch to Jake Hansen, who would shut down the offense in the final three innings.

MCC’s only offensive highlight of the game was a solo homerun by sophomore Dakota Crowe, his first of the year.

Game 7 MCC vs Itasca Community College

After a tough loss in game one of the day, MCC found its offensive footing against Itasca in the night cap.

MCC would jump out to a five run lead in the third inning after an RBI double from Vinny Smith and a suicide squeeze from Nolan Darr.

Five runs was enough for freshman lefty John Ringer. The southpaw shined in his first start as a Pioneer throwing three innings giving up no earned runs and striking out four Viking hitters and allowing just two hits. Ringer would pick up his first win of the year.

MCC jumped all over Itasca on offense. Doubles from Vinny Smith and TJ Booth, and a Triple from Khyler Thomson capped off the extra base hits for the Pioneers but MCC tallied 8 hits on the game.

Nolan Darr would lead the RBI column with four, two of which came from suicide squeezes by the sophomore third baseman. He would also add a two RBI single with the bases loaded to blow the door open in the fourth inning. TJ Booth, Porter Marley, Dustin Caplett, and Rocco Arguto would also jump into the RBI column.

Game 8 MCC vs Itasca Community College

Sophomore left hander Cody Eaton would start the first game on the final day for the Pioneers. The crafty lefty was dominant in his second outing of the season. Eaton would allow just three baserunners in his five innings of scoreless work. Eaton wouldn’t throw a pitch with runners in scoring position and wouldn’t allow a hit in his second start of the season.

MCC found ways to score all the way through the lineup. MCC’s Sam Haug and Mateo Arteaga each had three hits with two RBIs and one RBI, respectively. Haug would drill his second three bagger of the season. Dustin Caplett, Rocco Arguto, and TJ Booth would each have two hits in the game. Freshman Dustin Caplett would add three RBIs to his stat line after an RBI triple that was a near in the park homerun. Arguto would also score three times in the game.

After Eaton’s stellar performance, freshman Logan DeCock came into the game in the sixth DeCock would strike out one but with one out in the sixth inning, a bleeder would find its way through the infield for Itasca’s lone hit of the game. Freshman Sean Spillum would finish off the combined one hitter with a scoreless seventh with one strikeout and one walk.

Cody Eaton would pick up the win and improve to 1-1 on the season after his hitless outing. The shutout on Wednesday morning was the first of the season for the Pioneers who picked up the 13-0 win, their sixth of the road trip.

Game 9 MCC vs Cochise College

After rolling in game one agains Itasca, MCC had a matchup with nationally ranked Cochise College.

The Pioneers got off to a hot start after a one out single by Haug, followed by a wild pitch that put him on second base for TJ Booth. The sophomore catcher laced a two out single into right that plated Haug to put the Pioneers up 1-0.

The Pioneers got off to a hot start after a one out single by Haug, followed by a wild pitch that put him on second base for TJ Booth. The sophomore catcher laced a two out single into right that plated Haug to put the Pioneers up 1-0.

Cochise would answer in the second inning with an RBI single by Robert Valenzuela knotting the game at one run apiece.

Sophomore Jake Lowery would keep the Apache offense at bay until the third inning when two walks and two defensive blunders by MCC would lead to a five run inning for Cochise. The sophomore would work for two outs but an infield single by Logan Bottrell would be it for the Great Falls Native. Sophomore Cody Frenk would take the reins and toss the next four outs for MCC allowing just one run in his appearance.

The Pioneers threatened in the top half of the fourth as they would knock Cochise starter Johnathon Ellison out of the game after scoring two runs. Sam Spadafore would take over in the bases loaded jam but would give up a rocket to right field off the bat of freshman Vinny Smith. Smith’s shot would challenge the wall but a circus catch by right fielder Canice Ejoh would turn the would be bases clearing double into just an RBI sacrifice fly. A base running blunder on the same play would turn into a double play and Cochise wiggled their way out of the jam allowing just three runs.

The fourth inning rally by MCC was the last of it’s offensive surge for the weekend as Cochise reliever, Aaron Vernon, would hold the Pioneers scoreless in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.

Despite seven hits by MCC, the Apache pitching staff avoided the big hit and the Pioneers would go on to drop the final game of the weekend 9-4.

Head Coach Jeff Brabant on the 9 game stretch in Tuscon:

“I was very proud of how our guys competed on the trip. Anytime you play that many games in such a short time frame, guys are going to be sore and mistakes are going to happen. I thought we battled through the adversity we faced and played some good baseball on the tail end of the trip. This weekend is a crucial trip for us and I think we accomplished what we needed to. I still don’t think we played anywhere close to our full potential but we took some huge strides this week as a team.”

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