Hutchinson, Kan. – A back-and-fourth championship game ended in heartbreak for the No. 2 seeded Tabor College baseball team as they fell to top seeded Sterling College by the score of 9-5, Friday afternoon at Hobert-Detter Stadium in Hutchinson, Kan.
This was the second meeting of the tournament between the two teams with the Warriors winning a semifinal matchup on Thursday over the Bluejays by the score of 8-6.
The Bluejays struck first in the top of the second as senior Adam McCormick led off the inning with a double to center, before scoring later in the inning on a sacrifice fly by fellow senior Matt Cardona. Sterling would answer with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI groundout, and a bunt single to take its first lead of the game at 2-1.
The Warriors would add another run in the bottom of the third on a leadoff homerun to left field to extend the lead to two at 3-1. Tabor would respond with a homerun of its own as McCormick blasted a two-run shot to straight away center field to tie the game at three apiece.
Sterling would regain the lead at 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a throwing error by the Bluejays that sailed over the first baseman's head, scoring the runner from second base. The lead would grow to three after the Warriors tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 6-3.
The Bluejays would pull back within a run, thanks in part to a two-run top of the seventh inning, to make the score 6-5. Senior Colby Tessendorf drove in the first run of the inning on an RBI double before junior Tyler Kozlowski added an RBI on a sacrifice fly. Tabor looked like they were on their way to retaking the lead in the top of the eighth but failed to come up with the big hit with bases loaded and two outs.
After rendering the Bluejays scoreless the Warriors busted the game wide open in the bottom half of the eighth scoring three runs in the inning to extend their lead to 9-5. Tabor would get the leadoff man aboard in the top of the ninth, but could not mount a late inning rally as the Warriors came away with the championship victory.
McCormick led the Bluejays at the plate going 2-5 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored, while Cardona went 2-2 with an RBI in the game. Tessendorf and Kozlowski each chipped in with a hit and an RBI to round out the offense in the game for the Bluejays.
Both teams left nine men on base with the Bluejays committing two errors in the game. Sterling also out hit Tabor 15-9 for the game.
Senior Nicholas Reif got the start and lasted five and two thirds innings allowing five earned runs on 10 hits while striking out three. Junior Zach Richert came on in relief and allowed three earned runs on five hits in two and a third innings of work.
Tabor (42-12 Overall) will return to Hobart-Detter Stadium to compete in the NAIA regional tournament beginning Thursday May 17. The host Bluejays will have to wait till Sunday when the five team brackets will be announced to see who their first round opponent will be.