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Hawks defeat defending champs at NJCAAs

May 28, 2008|By Tim Koelble

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Making a remarkable turnaround, Hagerstown Community College defeated Chipola (Fla.) College 10-7 on Tuesday in an NJCAA Division I World Series elimination game.

Less than two days after suffering a crushing 18-2 loss to Grayson (Texas) County College in the first round, and trailing 5-3 to the defending champion Indians, Hagerstown erupted for a seven-run fourth inning and it was enough for the Hawks to remain alive in the 10-team tournament.

"That was a great turnaround," said HCC coach Scott Jennings. "It was a great win for our program."

It's possible the Hawks could face Grayson once again. Grayson faced Alvin (Texas) Community College in Tuesday's late game, with the loser slated to face Hagerstown in today's elimination game at 5 p.m.

"We fought for nine innings," said South Hagerstown graduate Spencer Cromer, the winning pitcher as he rebounded from a rough start and gutted out 7 2/3 innings. "We kept our focus and composure."

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HCC (41-18) scored three runs in the bottom of the first for a 3-2 lead, but Chipola (45-14) came back with three in the third on a three-run home run by Adam Duvall, who had five RBIs in the game.

However, Hagerstown struck big in an unusual way in its half of the fourth inning, using the home run ball. The Hawks had only 30 homers in 58 games entering Tuesday.

Against relief pitcher Jason Bailey, Zach Smith was hit by a pitch with one out. Matt Greene singled and Boonsboro graduate Matt Byers stepped up and knocked out a three-run homer for a 6-5 lead.

"I was waving Smith and Byers around the bases because I thought Byers' hit was going to be against the fence, but all of a sudden it was gone," said Jennings.

Roland Thiele smacked his 12th homer and second of the series 430 feet to knock out Bailey in favor of Jason Townsend. Townsend walked Michael Knight and Joe Stover, and Charles Johnson followed with his own three-run blast for a 10-5 lead.

From that point, Townsend quieted the Hawks with nine strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Cromer fixed the ship in the middle innings, at one point retiring 13 of 15 Chipola batters before tiring in the eighth.

After two walks, pinch-hitter Matt Chaffee drove in both runners with a single, finishing Cromer's 153-pitch effort.

Jennings brought in Kyle Briggs, who shut the door on the Indians for the save.

"Cromer has all the guts in the world and was the perfect guy to put in this (must-win) situation," said Jennings. "He had a big task in front of him."

Cromer said he started locating his fastball and that helped his curveball.

"It's the World Series ... you dream for this as a kid," said Cromer. "We just couldn't let this one slip away."

Greene, Byers, Thiele and Knight each had two hits for the Hawks.

"We had a good morning round of batting practice," said Jennings.

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