Tiger Baseball wrapped up their regular season with a four game series at Southwestern Community College in Burlington, IA on May 4 and May 5. Seeding for the Region XI tournament was at stake as the Tigers needed to win just one of the four games to secure the three seed in the tournament. At the end of Sunday, the Tigers had not only wrapped up the three seed, but done so in convincing fashion as they earned their first four-game sweep of the season.
MCC got off to a quick start against Spartans with a two-out rally in the top of the first inning. Eli Berggeron doubled with two away and the Tigers ended up loading the bases as Ryan Carter and Tyler Coleman were each hit by pitches. Jeffry Roldan, who has emerged in the Tiger lineup over the last few weeks of the season then came up with a single to opposite field on an 0-2 pitch to score both Berggeron and Carter. Luis Menendez had a chance to add to the total with runners on the corners, but popped the first pitch up to the first baseman to end the top of the first.
Diego Almonte was on the mound for the visiting Tigers and worked threw three scoreless innings to open up the game. Almonte was laboring though and had to get out of jams in each of the first three frames.
With the Tigers clinging to a 2-0 lead, a five run fourth inning opened up the contest. Of the five runs, three were unearned after Joel Torrealba reached on an error by the Spartan shortstop. In all, Menendez, Torrealba, Reece Blay, Berggeron, and Carter all crossed the plate to give the Tigers a comfortable 7-0 lead.
The laboring of Almonte finally caught up to the Tigers in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs and a runner on first, Almonte Walked John Figueroa and gave up a ground ruled double to Quentin Sefrit. A couple of balls to the backstop later, three runs had scored and Raul Cosme earned a walk. The walk brought an end to Almonte's day as MCC turned to Jimmy Kurka out of the bullpen. Kurka induced a pop-out from the first batter he faced. But the Spartans had cut the lead to 7-3.
After the teams went scoreless in the fifth, Candido Encarnacion added an insurance run for the Tigers in the top of the sixth with a solo shot to move the score to 8-3.
Things got interesting for Kurka and the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth. After the leadoff batter, Marcus Daugherty reached on an E3, Kurka plunked Isaac Esquilin in the nine hole to put runners on first and second with the top of the order coming up. The very next pitch hit Figuera to load the bases.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Kurka got a big first out with a popup on the infield. The next batter, Raul Cosme singled to score Daugherty and Esquilin and move bring the home team to withing 8-5 with the tying run at the plate. Another infield fly recorded the second out of the inning and also brought an end to Kurka's day.
Jacob Medcalf, who has carved out a role as the Tigers closer, often times throwing multiple innings, came on in relief of Kurka. After hitting Brian Soto to load the bases, Medcalf got Michael Hart to hit into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
The Tigers were unable to score in the top of the seventh and entered the bottom of the last frame needing just three outs to secure the win and third place seeding in the Region XI Tournament. Medcalf struck out the first to batters of the frame and looked to be rolling. But things got interesting as he walked the next two batters, each of full counts. He then hit Quentin Sefrit on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate. But Medcalf buckled down and got Cosme to pop up to the third baseman, Ryan Carter to end the game.
Game two was a pitcher's duel from start to finish. Both David Davila for the Tigers and Aaron Allsup for the Spartans threw complete games. In the end, it was Davila who would get the better of the matchup.
The Tigers recorded nine hits in the game, but no more than three in a single inning. MCC scored one run in the first on two hits, a run in the sixth on three hits after Jeffry Roldan and Tyler Coleman hit back-to-back extra base hits, and one run in the seventh on a solo shot by Tom Josten.
Meanwhile, Davila was dealing as he struck out nine while allowing just five hits and one run. The Spartans scored their lone run in the sixth inning after Davilla walked Wade Cox and gave up a double to the next batter, Chris Palomo.
The Tigers claimed the pitcher's duel 3-1.
After the defensive battle in game two, it was time for both teams to score some runs in game three.
After the Tigers went scoreless in the top of the first, SWCC jumped on MCC starter, Walter Hernandez. After Hernandez retired leadoff batter, John Figueroa on a 1-3 putout, the next two Spartan batters, Cosme and Sefrit each hit solo shots to make the score 2-0 SWCC after one.
Both teams went scoreless in the second inning, but that would be the only frame that neither team scored.
The Tigers knotted the game up at 2-2 in the top of the third as Julio Sanchez hit a leadoff double and Reece Blay took a 1-1 pitch to right-center field for a two-run shot to tie the game with nobody out. The Tigers kept the pressure on the home team with back-to-back hit batters, but a ground ball double play minimized the scoring opportunity and eventually the home team escaped with the score still tied.
After a scoreless bottom of the third, the game moved to the fourth still tied.
The Tigers took their first lead of the day in the fourth as Luis Menendez, Blay, and Roldan all scored in the inning. A combination of two hits and three walks for the visitors put the Tigers ahead 5-2.
It didn't take the home team long to reclaim the lead though. Again, Cosme and Sefrit did the bulk of the damage as they again paired up for back-to-back homeruns. With five runs in the fourth, SWCC was back on top 7-5.
Now it was the Tigers' turn to respond. Tyler Coleman stated the fifth inning with a solo shot to move the score to 7-6. Menendez doubled, and Joel Torrealba reached on a bunt hit. Julio Sanchez then laid down another bunt that scored Menendez and moved Torrealba to second. With the game again tied, Blay hit an RBI double to put the Tigers back ahead 8-7.
Jeffry Roldan singled to put runners on the corners with one out before Candido Encarnacion struck out swinging. Now with two outs, Tom Josten drew a walk to load the bases for the designated hitter, Eli Berggeron. Berggeron delivered a two-out single to score two runs. When the top of the fifth was over, the Tigers led 11-7.
The game was far from over though as SWCC came back swinging in the home half of the fifth. After Michael Ver Lee struck out his first batter faced in relief of Hernandez for the first out of the bottom of frame, Figueroa singled and Cosme doubled to score Figueroa. Ver Lee then hit Sefrit to end his day.
Jimmy Kurka entered for the Tigers and was welcomed by an RBI double by Cade Cox followed up by an RBI single by Palomo. By the time Kurka and the Tigers could get out of the inning, their lead was cut down to 11-10.
SWCC evened the score at 11-11 in the bottom of the sixth after the Tigers went scoreless in the top. Michael Hart was hit by the first pitch by Jacob Medcalf who was now pitching for the Tigers. A bunt and ball back to the pitcher moved Hart to third with one out before a passed ball scored him. A batter later, Cosme flew out to center field to end the sixth with the teams deadlocked at 11's.
The Tigers made the Spartans pay for a couple of two-out errors in the seventh. With two outs, Candido Encarnacion reached first base on an E6. He then stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Tom Josten walked to put runners on the corners for Berggeron. Again the Tiger DH came up clutch as he singled to left to score Encarnacion. Josten scored one pitch later on a single by Coleman, but the top of the seventh was brought to an end as Berggeron was tagged out trying to advance to third on the play.
Now up 13-11, Medcalf shut the home team down in the bottom of the seventh to give the Tigers the win in the back and forth battle.
The Tigers carried the momentum over into the fourth game of the series and handed SWCC a lopsided loss.
After Josten and Cosme traded two-run shots in the first, it was all Tigers. Jake Everaert was on the bump for the Tigers and would throw a complete game (5 innings). The sophomore surrendered four runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk. He struck out nine.
The Tiger hitters provided Everaert plenty of support as they scored 22 runs on 18 hits. They were aided by two errors, eight walks, and two hit batters. In all, 16 of the 22 runs were earned.
With the sweep, the Tigers finished their regular season 14-27 and winners of eight of their last eleven.