Jayhawks Take Down No. 3 NCCC
Johnson Hits Game-Winning Triple, Throws 173 Pitches In Game 1 Victory
SANBORN — Jamestown Community College’s up and down baseball season reached another peak Tuesday.
Ryan Johnson drove in Taylor Byrd with the winning run in the top of the ninth inning as the Jayhawks beat No. 3 Niagara County CC, 8-7, in Game 1 of an NJCAA Region 3 Division III doubleheader.
The Thunderwolves came back to win Game 2, 10-0, to earn a split heading into Thursday’s scheduled doubleheader between the same two teams at Diethrick Park.
Johnson was the unsung hero for the Jayhawks (5-11, 5-9) in Game 1, throwing a complete-game seven-hitter, to help coach Matt Cummings earn his first career victory over Niagara County CC in his third year at the helm.
“He was in a groove and was keeping Niagara off-balanced with what he was throwing,” Cummings said of Johnson. “As long as his arm wasn’t hurting, he kept on grinding for us.”
Johnson struck out eight and walked six while throwing a mind-boggling 173 pitches.
Going to the ninth tied, 7-7, Byrd led off with a single and went to second on a Matt Hair sacrifice bunt. Steve Krystofiak then flew out to right field before Johnson tripled over Matt Kruszka’s head in right field to score Byrd with the go-ahead run.
Kruszka walked to lead off Niagara County CC’s half of the ninth and Joe Barberio was hit by a pitch with two outs, but Johnson struck Michael O’Connor out looking to end the game.
“After his triple in the top of the ninth, I asked him if he wanted to go back out,” Cummings said. “He said, ‘Heck yes. Let’s go get this win.'”
The loss gave the Thunderwolves (19-4, 7-2) back-to-back losses for the first time in seven years after their doubleheader Game 2 loss Sunday to Finger Lakes CC.
Niagara County CC took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but the Jayhawks answered with four runs in their half of the second. Hair and Krystofiak opened the inning with singles before a sacrifice bunt by Johnson moved the runners to second and third. Braiden Blair followed with an RBI single before Chris Williams’ two-out, two-run double. Robert Herrera closed the scoring with an RBI double of his own.
“That was huge for us. We really went into today’s game playing pretty loose,” Cummings said. “We didn’t feel there was any pressure on us. To go down 4-0 early and respond kind of made our guys relax and realize we can play with them.”
After the Thunderwolves took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Jamestown CC answered again in the top of the sixth. Williams walked to open the inning, stole second and scored on DJ Yates’ RBI single.
“It was great situational baseball,” Cummings said of bunts by Hair and Johnson as well as Williams’ stolen base. “All of our guys practice that no matter if they are leadoff or No. 4 in the lineup. We ask all of our guys to play unselfish baseball.”
Johnson finished with a double and a triple; Williams had two hits, including a double; Herrera had two singles; and Byrd had two singles in Game 1.
In the nightcap, Niagara County CC scored single runs in the first and third innings before a seven-run fourth inning put the game away. Casey Gruarin and Matt Kruszka had doubles, Vincent Chiarenza tripled and Barberio hit his first career collegiate home run for the Thunderwolves.
Johnson doubled and reached third in the third inning while Herrera singled and reached third in the fourth inning for the Jayhawks. Daniel Recinos returned late Monday night from his brother’s doubleheader in Guatemala and took the loss in Game 2, throwing three-plus innings, striking out three and walking two.
After its home doubleheader Thursday, Jamestown CC will travel to Finger Lakes CC and Broome CC for doubleheaders Friday and Saturday. The Jayhawks will then host Broome CC in another doubleheader Sunday giving them 10 scheduled games in six days.
JAMESTOWN CC 041 101 01 — 8 12 4
NIAGARA COUNTY CC 400 210 00 — 7 7 3
Johnson and Herrera. Kiener, JKruszka (6), Zapata-Baez (7) and Cross. SO–Johnson 8, Kiener 4, JKruszka 3, Zapata-Baez 4. BB–Johnson 6, Kiener 1, JKruszka 2, Zapata-Baez 1. W–Johnson. L–Zapata-Baez. 2B–Williams (JCC), Herrera (JCC), Johnson (JCC), Chiarenza (NCCC). 3B–Johnson (JCC).
JAMESTOWN CC 000 00 — 0 3 3
NIAGARA COUNTY CC 101 71 — 10 9 0
Recinos, Caldwell (4) and Herrera. Destino and Cross. W–Destino. L–Recinos. SO–Recinos 3, Caldwell 1, Destino 2. BB–Recinos 2, Caldwell 4, Destino 1. 2B–Johnson (JCC), Blair (JCC), Gruarin (NCCC), MKruszka (NCCC). 3B–Chiarenza (NCCC). HR–Barberio (NCCC).