The Region XI Baseball Tournament was played at Pat Daugherty Field in Centerville, IA on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11. The double-elimination tournament featured Iowa Western as the top seed, hosting Indian Hills as the second seed, MCC as the third seed, and Southwestern as the four seed.
Game 1 VS Indian Hills
The Tigers got off to a quick start in the top of the first inning. Jeffry Roldan led things off for the third seeded Tigers and singled through the infield. Candido Encarnacion then reached base on a bunt that also advanced Roldan. Tom Josten, hitting in the three hole then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but moved Roldan to third base with two outs. Eli Berggeron came through with a big hit to score Roldan and put the Tigers up 1-0 before Tyler Coleman flew out to end the top of the first.
After starting pitcher, David Davila retired the Falcons in order in the bottom of the first, the Tigers again got a run across in the top of the second to open up a 2-0 lead. Ryan Carter led the inning off with a double to right-center field and a single by Luis Menendez put runners on the corners with nobody out. But again, a ground ball double play put a damper on the inning as Julio Sanchez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that scored Carter. The Tigers tried to get a two out rally going as Reece Blay singled and stole second, Roldan walked, and Encarnacion reached on an error. But with two outs and the bases loaded, Josten struck out swinging on three pitches to end the threat.
The Falcons pulled the score to 2-1 in the bottom of the second after an Alex Fisher double was compounded by an MCC error to allow Fisher to reach third with one out. With the infield playing back, a ground ball to second by Dave Janssen scored Fisher before the Tigers got out of the inning one batter later.
Wyatt Wendall was on the mound for Indian Hills and settled in from the third inning on. The Falcon hurler allowed just two hits in innings 3-6 to hold the Tigers at two runs heading into the seventh.
Meanwhile the Falcon batters got to Davila in the fourth inning. A leadoff walk, followed by four consecutive hits allowed four runs to score and push the second seeded Falcons into the lead as the Tigers now trailed 2-5.
Things got worse for the Tigers in the fifth inning. A leadoff walk to Soren Graversen ended Davila's day with nobody out in the fourth inning. Jake Everaert entered the game for the Tigers. After inducing a pair of fly outs, Janssen took a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center to extend the lead to 2-7.
From there, Everaert would hold the Falcons scoreless to keep the Tigers within striking distance.
But the Tigers were never able to rally. Wendall was replaced by Zacharie Allard heading into the seventh inning. Allard lasted just two batters, back to back walks, before being replaced by Nick Marshall. Marshall got the Falcons out of the seventh unharmed and threw a scoreless eighth inning as well.
Down to their final three outs, Encarnacion flew out to center to lead off the top of the ninth. Josten walked and reached second on a passed ball. Berggeron moved Josten to third with a single and was replaced on the bases by Travon Hughes. A sac fly by Coleman scored Josten to bring the Tigers to within four at 3-7. However, that's how the game would end as Ryan Carter popped up on the infield to end the game.
The Falcons moved to the winner's bracket to take on Iowa Western while the Tigers moved to the loser's bracket to take on Southwestern in an elimination game.
Game 2 VS Southwestern
Coming off of a sweep of the Spartans just a week prior, the Tigers entered the first elimination game with plenty of confidence. Having their ace, Walter Hernandez, on the hill only added to that.
Hernandez threw like an ace. The sophomore Cumberlands commit allowed just two runs on three hits while throwing a complete game. He struck out ten batters while walking just one. The only trouble for the hurler came in the top of the third inning. Hernandez walked Marchus Daugherty and gave up a triple to Isac Esquilin to open up the inning. However, Hernandez retired the next three batters to limit the damage to two run.
In the bottom half of the innings, there was plenty of offense for the Tigers. While the home team on the score board didn't have any explosive innings, they consistently got runners on base and found a way to get them home. The Tigers scored eight runs on thirteen hits. Candido Encarnacion led the Tigers offensively with three hits. The sophomore, also committed to Cumberlands, also scored twice. Other Tigers to cross the plate were Roldan, Coleman, Carter, Menendez, Joel Torrealba, and Julio Sanchez.
By winning the first elimination game, the Tigers advanced to day two of the tournament where they would face the losers of the winner's bracket game of Iowa Western VS Indian Hills.
Game 3 VS Indian Hills
Game three for the Tigers proved to be a rematch of game one as the Tigers and Falcons again did battle. This time, it was a losers go home situation. At the end of nine innings, it would be Indian Hills packing up their bags one last time for the year as the Tigers eliminated them from the tournament.
Game three featured a pitching matchup of Malik Abdul for the Falcons squaring off with Jacob Medcalf of the Tigers. Both starting pitchers threw well enough to keep their teams in the game. The difference in the game would prove to be the bullpens.
The Tigers opened up an early 3-0 lead. After neither team scored in the first inning, the Tigers got on the board with two outs in the second. Ryan Carter hit a two out single and advanced to second on a passed ball. The next batter, Luis Menendez doubled to left-center to score Carter. Torrealba then grounded out to strand Menendez on second.
It didn't take long for the Tigers to get more runners across the plate though. In the top of the third, Jeffry Roldan and Candido Encarnacion hit back-to-back one out singles. Josten added a third consecutive single to score Roldan from second and move Encarnacion to third. A sac fly by Coleman scored Encarnacion and put the Tigers ahead 3-0.
After a scoreless bottom of the third and top of the fourth, the Falcons got on the board in the home half of the fourth inning due to a defensive lapse by the Tigers. With one out, Alex Fisher walked to reach first. Fisher then advanced to third on a passed ball and an error on Torrealba behind the plate. After Medcalf struck out Jay Hester to record the second out of the inning, a ground ball to third looked like it would end the fourth inning. But a second error of the inning, this time by Julio Sanchez, allowed Fisher to score and Jacob Kristisen to reach first to extend the inning. The next batter, Brady Nowicki also rolled over on a ball and grounded to third base. This time, the usually steady Sanchez made the play. After four innings, the Tigers led 3-1.
Both pitchers worked clean half innings in the fifth to send the game into the sixth inning with the score still 3-1.
Ryan Carter led the top of the sixth off by drawing a walk. He later advanced to second on a wild pitch. With a runner in scoring position, Menendez and Torrealba were unable to move him over or score him. With two outs, Sanchez redeemed his error in the field with a single into right that scored Carter and moved the score to 4-1.
Indain Hills threatened in the bottom of the sixth, but ultimately the Tiger pitching and defense won out as they escaped the inning clinging to the 4-1 lead.
The Falcons turned to the bullpen to start the seventh inning and the Tigers pounced all over the arms out of the pen. Omar Vigil was the first reliever for the Falcons. Roldan welcomed him to the game with a single. Vigil then walked Encarnacion on four pitches to put runners on first and second with nobody out. The next batter, Ryan Carter singled to right to plate Roldan. However, Carter would get caught up on the bases as the Falcons cut the throw to the plate and caught Carter trying to retreat back to first. Encarnacion advanced to third on the play as the Tigers extended their lead to 5-1. That ended the day for Vigil.
It was Jordan Banhuk's turn on the mound now and he didn't fare any better. Banhuk walked the first batter he saw, Tyler Coleman. After getting Eli Berggeron to hit a grounder to short, Banhuk looked like he may escape the inning with a double-play ball, but Jet Weber booted it and allowed Coleman to move to third, Berggeron to reach first and Encarnacion to score to make the score 6-1.
The Tigers ended up scoring four more runs in the inning as the Indian Hills pitching and defense continued to struggle including three walks a pair of passed balls and another trip to the bullpen. Heading to the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers were in control 10-1.
Indian Hills tried to come back. They home team scored four runs in the seventh and eighth innings combined. But the Tigers turned to Jimmy Kurka out of the bullpen and Kurka shut down all hopes of a comeback.
The Tigers took their second win or go home game of the tournament by the score of 10-5. Of the five runs, three were earned and attributed to Medcalf who threw 7.2 innings.
The Tigers advanced to the championship series against tournament favorites, Iowa Western.
Game 4 VS Iowa Western
With the double-elimination format of the tournament, the Tigers needed to beat Iowa Western in two consecutive games to win the Region XI tournaments. While the Reivers were heavily favored and had the advantage of only having played two previous games, it was just a couple of shorts weeks ago that the Tigers had taken two consecutive games from the Reivers.
The Tigers got on the board first in the top of the first inning in a sequence of unusual events. Roldan reached first on a third strike that got past the Reiver catcher, Mason Speirs. Speirs then compounded the mistake by overthrowing first base and allowed Roldan to reach second. Encarnacion struck out before Josten grounded out to third and advance Roldan to third. Roldan then scored during Tyler Coleman's at bat on another passed ball. Coleman later struck out, but the Tigers led 1-0.
Diego Almonte was on the mound for the Tigers and threw a clean bottom of the first. Jordan Bonk, the pitcher for the Reivers answered with a clean top of the second. Almonte was again clean in the bottom of the second. But Bonk again responded with a clean top of the third.
After the four consecutive clean half innings, Iowa Western exploded for five runs in the bottom of the third inning. After a leadoff single by Ross Indlecoffer, Spiers bunted him over to second. With one out and a runner in scoring position, Garrett Olson singled to score Indlecoffer. That brought the Reivers to the top of the lineup. Cooper Bowman worked a full-count walk. Indlecoffer went on to score on a passed ball and Bowman scored on a single by Caleb Balgaard. The score was now 1-3, Reivers. Ronald Sweeny III stepped to the plate for the Reivers with one out and blasted a ball to right-center for a two-run shot that moved the score to 1-5 and end the day for Almonte. Raymond Collazo entered the game for the Tigers and retired the next two batters to keep the score at 1-5.
After Bonk and the Reivers again held the Tigers scoreless in the top of the fourth, they added a run in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead to 1-6.
Ryan Carter led off the top of the fifth with a single. He eventually advanced to third during Menendez's at bat on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Menendez then plated Carter with a sac fly to right field. After walking Joel Torrealba, Bonk struck out Sanchez and Roldan to move to the bottom of the fifth.
Jimmy Kurka was now on the mound for the Tigers and got through the fifth inning without allowing a run. The Tigers couldn't take advantage though as Bonk worked around a leadoff single to keep the game at 2-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Kurka remained in the game for the Tigers and again shut the Reivers out in the sixth to move the game to the seventh inning with the score still 2-6. But Bonk again held the Tigers scoreless and the game advanced to the bottom of the seventh inning.
The bottom of the seventh proved to be the last time the Tigers would take the field in the 2019 season. Iowa Western, needing four runs to win via eight run rule, led off with a single by Caleb Balgaard. After Sweeny III popped up on the infield, Jaden Rolffs went deep to move the score to 2-8. Kurka then loaded the bases by giving up back to back singles and plunking Indlecoffer.
PJ Maldonado came in to replace Kurka. Spiers took the first offering from Maldonado to right field for a sac fly that made the score 2-9. With two outs and runners on second and third, the Tigers needed one more out to move the game to the eighth inning and the Reivers needed one hit to end the game. It was the Reivers who got what they needed as Garrett Olson singled in the nine hole to score Isaiah Peterson to make the score 2-10 and end the game. Iowa Western was crowned Region XI Champions.
The Tigers finished the 2019 campaign with an overall record of 16-29.