DRAMATIC WOOARD DOUBLE SENDS KCKCC TO SUPER-REGIONAL
Blue Devils (40-19) win in ninth 7-6 after Garden City rallies from 6-2 deficit in eighth
L.A. Woodard may not be able to forecast the future but he delivered with what he envisioned Sunday – a ringing double to the right-centerfield gap that scored Drew Holtgrieve all the way from first base to give Kansas City Kansas Community College a heart-stopping 7-6 Region VI playoff win over Garden City.
"I was visualizing it (the hit) since they scored four runs," said Woodard, a sophomore shortstop from Nashville, Tenn., who was piled on by jubilant teammates. "It was the place (at bat) I wanted to be. It was the biggest hit of my life, for sure. It was a fast ball (on a 2-2 count) away and I went with it. The last four weeks I've been getting doubles and triples with two strikes."
"L.A. is a game-changing player," said KCKCC Coach Matt Goldbeck, whose Blue Devils now advance to the opening round of the 8-team super-regional in Wichita Friday that will send the winner to the NJCAA World Series. The Blue Devils will take a 40-19 record into the tourney, Goldbeck's second 40-win in his two seasons as head coach.
The win came after the Blue Devils had let a 6-2 lead get away in the top of the eighth inning. Capitalizing on three walks, the Broncbusters tied it on a 2-out, 3-run double by Ty Lightly off relief ace Julian Rivera and it took a great throw by leftfielder Josh Schumacher and tag by Holtgrieve at the plate that prevented Garden City from taking a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth.
It was the second Broncbuster to be thrown out at the plate. Rightfielder Chase Redick cut down Jesse Gonzales with a perfect throw to save a run in the sixth inning. "Chase's throw was right on the money; Josh's was up the line a little and he collided with me," said Holtgrieve, who held onto the ball despite being knocked backwards.
"That play was huge, it really gave me a lift," said Cam Bednar, who got the win by stranding base-runners in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings. Bednar also pitched two scoreless innings in KCKCC's 13-3 win on Friday.
"This team has been resilient all year long no matter what adversity they might run into," said Goldbeck. "Julian (Rivera) has been so good all year and the guys picked him up and then Cam Bednar really stepped up and gave us a chance to win. Garden City is a very good baseball team and if it weren't for a couple of great throws by Chase and Josh it could have easily been different. "
The Blue Devils also got an outstanding pitching performance from sophomore starter Chad Cox, who limited Garden City to just two runs and seven hits over the first six innings. Cox departed after giving up a single and a walk to start the eighth only to have Rivera walk two men to force in a run and then surrender the base-clearing double down the line that tied it.
KCKCC nearly won on the first pitch on the ninth inning, a line shot down the leftfield line off the bat of Brandon Green that Goldbeck thought might have been a game-ending home run but the umpires ruled differently.
The Blue Devils did get one home run. Tyler Pittman greeted reliever Dillan Feurstein with a 2-run shot over the 375-foot mark following a two-out Woodard single that increased KCKCC's lead to 6-1 in the fourth inning.
Woodard provided the big blow in KCKCC's 4-run second inning, a 2-run single. Singles by Rorey Combs and Easton Fortuna ignited the rally. Two errors scored one run and Holtgrieve walked with the bases-loaded for a second before Woodard's hit. Woodard finished with three hits, Pittman and Combs two each for KCKCC, which was outhit 11-8.
Cox limited Garden City to one hit over the first three innings before the Broncbusters cut the KCKCC lead to 4-1 in the fourth on a walk and a Clint Allen's double. Cox got out of a second and third jam in the fifth with a pair of strikeouts but the Broncbusters closed to 6-2 on a Rafael Villeis triple in the sixth. Cox allowed eight hits and four runs in 7 1/3 innings.