Summit Extreme Black Diamonds lose heartbreaker in 4th round of collegiate league championships
Special to the Daily
2016 Summit Extreme Black Diamonds playoffs
First round vs. No. 5 Vail Vipers, July 11
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Vail 1 0 0 3 0 1 0 5
SBD 0 0 0 1 0 5 X 6
Second round vs. No. 1 Glenwood Geckos, July 12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
SBD 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3
GW 3 0 0 0 2 0 X 5
Third round vs. No. 6 Eagle Valley Eagles, July 13
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
EV 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 7
SBD 1 0 2 2 0 4 X 9
Fourth round vs. No. 3 Grand Junction Rocky Mountain Oysters, July 14
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
SBD 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 5
GJ 2 0 3 0 1 0 X 6
Week Six of Summit Extreme Black Diamonds (SBD) baseball was crunch time for the team as they entered playoffs for the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League (MWSCBL), a double-elimination tournament.
First Round vs. No. 5 Vail Vipers — July 11
SBD (14-15 regular season) earned the fourth seed to draw a match-up with the fifth seed Vail Vipers for the first round of post-season play on July 11.
Matt Stone (Iowa Central C.C.) took the mound for Summit in the playoff opener and kept the Viper bats at bay until the fourth, when a string of hits put Vail up 4-0. Alex Sorensen (Mesa C.C.) and Blake Butcher (LaGrange College) responded for SBD with hits in the bottom of that inning to get on the board, 4-1.
In the top of the sixth Vail added another run and it was clear that Summit needed a rally — and a fast one at that. Then, the Summit bats delivered. Nick Boys (Iowa Central C.C.) led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and Tavin Thompson (LaGrange College) followed with a two-run homer to make it 5-3.
The comeback continued with doubles from Trevor Rosenberg (San Diego U.) and Tyler Daugherty (Scottsdale C.C.) to tie the game. By this point the Vipers had made a pitching change, but they still couldn’t stop Summit as Noah Prewitt (San Diego U.) knocked in Sorensen for the leading run.
With one on and one out in the top of the seventh, head coach Brady Kirkpatrick yanked Stone and put in reliable submarine hurler Tom Novick (San Diego U.). Novick stayed true to form for the final two outs, striking out both for the save and Black Diamonds win.
“I love this,” Novick said. “This is what I live for. This why I like being closer.”
Second round vs. No. 1 Glenwood Geckos — July 12
A much tougher task awaited the Black Diamonds in their second-round matchup on July 12. Glenwood (25-6) was the dominant force in the MWSCBL all year, sporting one of the deepest pitching staffs and a 5-1 record against the Diamonds.
The Geckos wasted no time getting started, as Colorado Mesa recruit Tanner Nieslanik tagged Spencer Franko (Iowa Central C.C.) for a three-run homer in the first.
Franko settled down soon after, but the Summit bats had yet another slow start. Butcher snapped the cold streak in the fourth with his 14th homer of the year, only to see another Nieslanik homer in the fifth push Glenwood’s lead to 5-1.
After a scoreless sixth from both sides it was do-or-die time for Summit in the seventh. A fevered comeback ignited when Blaine Swift (LaGrange College) led off with a double, and Prewitt and Sorensen walked to load the bases.
Then, Tanner Bowden (Salt Lake C.C.) struck out for the second out, and, once again, things looked bleak for Summit. After battling to two strikes, Boys gave Summit faint hope with a RBI single that brought the game to 5-3. With the tying run at first, Thompson strolled to the plate as the winning run. The Georgia native battled but couldn’t continue convert, popping out to right for the loss.
“We put the winning run at the plate, we battled back, we fought,” head coach Kirkpatrick said. “They just had a few more timely hits than we did.”
Third round vs. No. 6 Eagle Valley Eagles — July 13
Eagle Valley (7-25) was the league’s cellar dweller all season but still posed a legitimate threat, as they had just pulled off a first-round upset over Grand Junction and needed only one more to end the Black Diamonds’ season.
Luke Egging (McCook C.C) took the mound for Summit at Peninsula Park and held the Eagles scoreless for the first three innings while his offense stacked on a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Eagles started finding holes in the Summit defense and quickly tied the game with a slew of hits, 3-3.
SBD’s Tyler Zupon (Salt Lake C.C.) responded with a two-run dinger in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead, but the Eagles wouldn’t go down quietly. EV clanked a few singles and a three-run homer in the top of the fifth to put the Eagles up 7-5.
The season was in limbo for Summit, but these Black Diamonds were un-phased. A Sorensen lead-off double followed by a Boys walk and Thompson single cut the EV lead to 7-6. Next, Rosenberg caught the defense sleeping with a perfectly placed bunt to tie the game. Singles from Swift and Butcher gave SBD a comfortable 9-7 lead going into the seventh.
Novick came in for relief again and quickly allowed an Eagle single. Pressure was mounting as hard as the wind was blowing in Frisco, but Rosenberg held tough at second, turning an incredible double play to give the Black Diamonds the win.
With the win, Summit entered their deepest ever run in the MWSCBL playoffs.
Fourth round vs. No. 3 Grand Junction Rocky Mountain Oysters — July 14
Despite ending the regular season with a slightly worse record than Grand Junction, Summit played well against the Oysters all year, including a sweep in their previous meeting.
Bats were hot early for both teams and Grand Junction jumped to a 2-1 lead after the first inning. Summit starter Daugherty settled in by the second, retiring all three batters on strikeouts.
Daugherty’s stellar pitching must have sent a shockwave down his bench, as the SBD hitters looked like a different team their next time at the plate. A triple from Butcher and a single from Thompson scored three, and a walk to Bowden loaded the bases with two outs. Summit had the chance to blow things wide open, but the opportunity was spoiled as the Diamonds stranded three with a fragile one-run lead.
Grand Junction then took a 5-3 lead by the end of the third. Daugherty was still throwing well into the fifth with seven strikeouts, but a clutch homer kept GJ in the lead, 6-5.
Swift gave Summit hope in the sixth when he reached on a single-turned-double and then stole third base, but another rally collapsed when Prewitt grounded out to second. Luckily, reliever Mitch Grey (Trinidad State) kept Summit’s hopes alive in the sixth, tossing two crucial strikeouts to keep the deficit at one.
For the second day in a row Summit’s season was on the line in the seventh, but, unlike the Eagle Valley win, there wouldn’t be any late-game heroics. A Boys two-out ground out to second gave Grand Junction the win and sent the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds packing for the 2016 season.
Although the team fell short of its championship goals, the season wasn’t a disappointment.
“It’s been an experience,” incoming senior star Butcher said. “I’ve met some great people. I’ve met some friends I’ll keep for a lifetime. I’ve met some coaches I’ll stay in touch with and… I got an experience I probably won’t get to do again. It’s definitely been a fun time this summer.”
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