Late into the Sunday night in Grand Junction, Colorado, the record setting season of the Barton Community College baseball team came to an end as the 20th ranked Cougars fell 10-8 on a walk-off bottom of the ninth homerun to the NJCAA defending champions from 14th ranked Chipola College. Concluding their debut in the JUCO World Series, Barton's season ends at 47-15 while Chipola (44-17) advances in the elimination bracket to take on Temple (TX) in the 2:00 p.m. (MT) Monday contest.
Carson Engroff led Barton with four hits on the evening as the Cougars matched Chipola's twelve hits. Singling with one out in the first inning, Engroff moved over to second on a passed ball with Brett Bonar driving in his first of two runs on a single to left giving Barton the early 1-0 edge.
Chipola answered in the home half of the second inning as a one-out double would score on a two-out unlucky high chopper error through the middle of the diamond.
The Indians broke through on starting freshman Zach Curry in the third as consecutive one-out walks would score on a double followed by a passed ball. Recording his third strikeout in as many innings, an RBI single ended Curry's night with reliever Andrew Repp's 2-0 pitch being tattooed to straight away center for two more runs pushing the margin out to 6-1. A single and walk later, Tanner Howe took the mound to extinguish the fire inducing a ground out to second.
Entering the center field position after the first out of the inning to replace an injured Harrison Denk following a collision with left fielder Brady Michel, Chandler Kelley arrived at the plate in the fifth inning for his first JUCO World Series at-bat to scorch a hot shot past the Indian third baseman before advancing to second on an errant throw-in to the diamond. Engroff followed sending a lined shot sending the Indian right fielder crashing to the wall resulting in the Topeka sophomore's 13th double of the year. Bonar's ground out advanced the runners with Kelley scoring and Engroff crossing on Dawson Pomeroy's at-bat as Indian hurler Phillip Sanderson was called for a balk cutting Chipola's lead to 6-3.
Having closed the door in the third and sending the Indians down in order in the fourth and fifth inning, Howe was headed for his third straight 1-2-3 inning before the Indians' leading home run hitter Max Guzman drilled a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his 16th round tripper of the season pushing the margin out to four.
Kelley led off the Cougars' answer in the seventh with his second hit but looked to be stranded as Barton was down to their final out of the inning. Pomeroy kept hopes alive drawing a walk with Michel being plunked for the second time in loading the bases. Fighting through a hand injury for the past two weeks, Towanda sophomore Kaden Fowler broke his 0-14 slump in grand style, sending his first pitch seen from reliever Christian Collazo over the right field wall for a game tying base clearer on his team leading 12th long ball of the year.
Surrendering eight two-out RBIs in Saturday's game versus Jefferson, the big two-out hit against the Cougars reared its head again in the home half of the frame as a leadoff hit by pitch proved costly in scoring on another high chopping hit/error play up the middle.
Following both teams going down in order in the eighth, Engroff electrified the Cougar faithful in the top of the ninth with a mammoth blast to left center in depositing the 3-1 pitch over the bleachers for his 5th of the year to tie the contest. The Cougars threatened to take the lead on Bonar and Michel singles but reliever Jared Howell dodged a bullet as Fowler came a few feet short of a 3-run Barton lead on a fly out against the 400' fence before inducing an infield pop-up to kill the threat.
Pomeroy racked up his 5th strikeout of his 2.2 innings of relief to begin the ninth before a double off the left field wall preceded fellow multi-dimensional player Howell's walk-off drive over the wall in right center for his 10th of the year to end the year of the Cougars and keep the defending champion's season alive.
Also getting the victory on the mound, Howell evened up his season mark to 2-2 while Pomeroy dropped to 3-3 on the mound in his Cougar finale.
Other Game Notes:
- Barton finished the season with 47 victories to conclude its record setting season surpassing the 44-14 season mark set in 2002.
- Dawson Pomeroy drew two walks in Sunday night's contest; On his 44th walk he passed is dad Derek's 1991 8th best mark before drawing his 45th in the seventh inning to tie Mike Pierce ('91) for 7th best in program history.
- Kaden Fowler's seventh inning home run for his 12th of the season tied Michael Sinks ('17) and Chris Umphries ('00) for 5th best in Barton single season history.
- Fowler's grand slam moved his season RBI total to 67 and a 7th place single season tie with Federico Castagnini ('12) and David Wilson ('07).
- Brett Bonar's groundout RBI in the fifth inning for his team leading 69th to tie Shawn Fischer ('02) for the 4th best run single season run production in program history
- Bonar's two hits and Fowler's lone hit was the 91st each for the duo, ending their Barton career tied for 3rd on the program single season chart.
- Carson Engroff's 4-of-5 performance finished just two hits shy of the program's Top-10 single season hits in finishing with 76 total.
- Brady Michel, who had set the single season doubles record (29) in the Central District Tournament, was hit by pitch twice on Sunday to end his season total at 12 - One way from the single season Top-10 list.
- Tanner Howe appeared out of the pen for his second time in the Tournament, increasing his school record to 29 appearances.
- Zach Curry's 2.2 innings pitched moved into 6th place in most innings pitched in the program's single season. Saturday's starter Josh Hendrickson is the leader with 96.1 innings pitched. Curry struck out three in his outing to finish at 71 for the season, four out of the program's top ten. (Hendrickson finished second on the season with 125 total strikeouts).
Additional coverage of Barton and the JUCO World Series can be found on the official tournament web site.