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Hawks stay alive in NJCAA Division I World Series

May 29, 2008|By Tim Koelble

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- The Hagerstown Community College baseball team, for the time being, just doesn't want to come back home.

The Hawks endured another down-to-the-wire battle on Wednesday in an NJCAA Division I World Series elimination game and came through with an exciting 11-9 victory over Alvin (Texas) Community College.

With their second straight win, the Hawks (42-18) move on to today's 5 p.m. elimination game against either Shelton State (Ala.) Community College or Grayson County (Texas) College, which played late Wednesday.

"It's the Bad News Bears against the Yankees," chuckled coach Scott Jennings after the win. "My guys keep surprising."

Tremendous relief pitching by Kyle Briggs and several outstanding defensive plays were the cornerstones of the victory.

Briggs entered in relief of Cory Livengood in the fifth inning after the Dolphins tied the game at 8 on a three-run home run by Richard Porfirio.

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Briggs went 4 2/3 innings and kept Alvin off the scoreboard until the ninth, when he allowed a pair of two-out singles and left in favor of Aerik Taylor. Taylor yielded a double but got Blake Lynd on a blooper that Matt Greene ran down to end the game.

"Cory didn't have real good stuff and we rode him as long as we could," said Jennings. "Briggs -- without him and what he did today, we wouldn't have won."

After Porfirio's blast, Hagerstown came back on two walks, a sacrifice bunt by Greene and an RBI groundout by Jacob Darr. Roland Thiele stepped up with a run-scoring single to make it 10-8.

Hagerstown added a solo run in the ninth on a walk to Byers, a single by Darr and another run-scoring single by Thiele, who had four of HCC's 10 hits and three of the Hawks' RBIs.

The Hawks had ample opportunities throughout the game. Along with their 10 hits, the Hawks received 16 walks by five Alvin pitchers, but left 14 runners on base.

"We had some shots to blow the game open early," said Jennings. "You always want to get what you can early. And I was happy that Thiele went to the opposite field and wasn't home-run happy."

Zach Smith made a pair of defensive plays in left field, saving four runs. Matt Byers made a sterling catch in center field in the eighth, and Greene added his gem in the ninth.

In the sixth inning, the Hawks nearly turned a triple play on a line drive off the bat of Pablo Salinas.

"That's our kind of game with great defense," said Jennings. "Greene had his best day of the year at second base and Smith had two great catches in left."

With the win, the Hawks are assured at least a fourth-place finish in the World Series.

Did Jennings have a preference on his opponent for today?

"(Shelton) seems to be more our type of team the way we are built," he said. "Psychologically, I don't think it would be good for us to play Grayson right now."

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