WOODWARD — Unable to overcome a seven-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning, No. 4 seed Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College lost 17-15 to Seminole State College Friday, May 11, in the Division I Region II Baseball Tournament at Woodward’s Crystal Beach park.
With the loss, the Golden Norsemen snapped an 11-year string of seasons above .500.
NEO finished 25-27 on the year. This marked only the second sub-.500 season in coach Roger Ward’s 20-year stint as NEO’s head coach. The Golden Norsemen were 27-29 in 2007.
Defending regional champion No. 2 seed Seminole (41-10) won its 24th Region II championship with a 7-6 victory over No. 3 seed Eastern State College (44-18) on Sunday, May 13.
The Trojans host the South Central District playoffs, Thursday, May 17 through Saturday, May 19 in Seminole.
The Trojans have won 15 district championships, the last coming in 2009.
Teams also participating in the district playoffs are Jefferson College of Hillsboro, Missouri, representing Region XVI (Missouri), and Delgado Community College of New Orleans, Louisiana, representing Region XXIII (Louisiana).
Jefferson College (50-9-1) defeated Crowder College of Neosho, Missouri, 7-4 on Saturday at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin to win the regional title.
Delgado (35-14) won the regional crown with an 11-1 five-inning rout of Baton Rouge Community College on Sunday, May 6.
Winner of the district playoffs advances to the NJCAA Junior College World Series May 26-June 2 in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Under interim head coach James Martin, Seminole defeated No. 6 seed Arkansas Baptist College (5-39) 21-2 on Thursday, May 10, to start the double-elimination tournament. The Trojans then eliminated the Norsemen on Friday.
The Trojans upset fourth-ranked and No. 1 seed Connors State College (49-9) 9-8 Saturday in the winners bracket finals.
Eastern’s Mountaineers opened the tournament with an 8-7 victory over NEO on Thursday. After losing to Connors 11-5 on Friday, the Mountaineers eliminated No. 5 seed Rose State College (18-34) Saturday.
The Mountaineers crushed Connors State, 26-13, in Saturday’s losers bracket finals.
Seminole 17, NEO 15
A grand slam by Calem Nutting highlighted a five-run ninth inning as the Golden Norsemen tried to overcome a seven-run deficit.
Colton Marion started the outburst with a walk. Bryson Lierle followed with a single. After Matthew Patton struck out swinging, both base runners advanced on a balk.
Pinch hitter Reece Thompson walked to fill the bases before Nutting (connected on a full-count pitch to clear the bases with his eighth homer of the season.
Matthew Gaskins doubled and advanced to third on a balk by Seminole reliever Gunner Halter. Pinch hitter Jordan Blackmon singled to left, scoring Gaskins to cut the Norse deficit to 17-15.
Dylan Bond replaced Halter on the mound and struck out NEO’s Erasmo Mavarez on four pitches.
Troy Gagan lined out to Seminole third baseman DeShawn Lookout to end the game.
Seminole built a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning off NEO starter Tanner Bramlage (5-4). Archer Brookman walked and came all the way around to score on a double by Russ Messina.
The Golden Norse grabbed a brief 2-1 lead in the top of the third on a double by Marion and a two-run homer by Lierle, his third.
A two-run single by Landen Kimbro highlighted a three-run rally by the Trojans in the bottom of the third.
Doubles by Nutting, James Avery and Mavarez highlighted a four-run fourth inning for the Norsemen. Mavarez collected two RBIs while Patton also generated two runs with a single as NEO regained the lead at 6-4.
Seminole received a two-run single by Kimbro and a three-run homer by Dalton Reed (his 17th) to take a 9-6 advantage at the end of the fourth inning.
NEO responded with two runs in the top of the fifth on a single by Nutting, a pinch-hit RBI double by Gaskins and a RBI single by Gagan for a 9-8 deficit.
Jacob Schultz replaced Bramlage in the bottom of the fifth inning and surrendered a pinch-hit solo home run by Marc Labreaux (his ninth) for a 10-8 Trojan lead.
Nutting continued his perfect plate appearance with his seventh homer of the season against Seminole reliever Brayden Taylor to start the sixth inning.
A grand slam by Halter (No. 19) highlighted a five-run sixth for Seminole and created a 15-9 cushion.
Dekotah Jones replaced Schultz in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Dalton Reed doubled and scored on a RBI triple by Brookman. A passed ball on a called third strike allowed Brookman to score Seminole’s final run.
Singles by Dylan Taylor and Nutting, along with a double by Mavarez, accounted for an NEO run in the top of the eighth inning.
Nutting collected five of the season-high 21 Golden Norse hits, along with five RBIs. Lierle and Gaskins contributed three hits each while Gagan, Marion and Mavarez added two hits each. Patton, Blackmon, Avery and Taylor each had a single.
Kimbro, Reed, Lookout, Brookman and Treadway each had two of the 14 total Seminole hits.
Bramlage surrendered nine runs on nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks in four innings of work.
Eastern 8, NEO 7
A leadoff double by Cody Muncy in the bottom of the ninth inning enabled the Eastern Mountaineers to break a 7-7 tie in the opening game of the II tournament.
Courtesy runner Haven Hunter advanced to third base on a wild pitch by
NEO reliever Jared Demmel (1-1). After Cade Tucker grounded out to third base, Hunter scored the winning run as Kolby Reck hit into a fielder’s choice.
NEO tied the score in the top of the ninth on a double by Gagan and a two-run homer by catcher Tyler Silva (4).
The Golden Norse built a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Nutting drew a leadoff walk and after Avery struck out, Mavarez (4) drilled the first pitch from Ryan Kouba over the fence for a home run.
Eastern scored a run in the bottom of the second inning. Patton walked Reck to start the rally. After Chris Herb bounced into a fielder’s choice sending Reck to second, Reed Webb singled scoring Reck for a 2-1 deficit.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mountaineers grabbed a 3-2 lead with a pair of unearned runs.
Webb reached base on an error by Gagan at second. After Devin Gummere walked, Anthony Martinez walked to fill the bases.
Phillip Scott followed with a single, scoring both Webb and Gummere.
The Mountaineers started a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo homer by Muncy (10). Tucker followed with a single before Herb hit the sixth pitch out of the park for his third home run and a 6-2 Mountaineer lead.
A two out single by both Patton and Gagan started a three-run seventh inning for the Norsemen.
Nutting hit his sixth homer of the season and a 6-5 deficit.
Demmel replaced Patton to start the bottom of the sixth inning. After a 1-2-3 sixth, Demmel allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh.
Tucker singled to left to start the frame. Reck popped out to right before Herb reached on a fielding error by Patton at first base.
On the play, Tucker came around to score with Herb advancing to second.
NEO outhit Eastern by a 12-10 margin. Gagan collected three hits for the Norsemen while Patton and Mavarez added two each respectively.
Gummere, Scott, Muncy and Tucker produced two hits each to pace the Mountaineers.
As a starter, Patton gave up two runs on five hits with three strikeouts 3.2 innings of work.
Gaskins allowed five runs on four hits with four strikeouts in three innings of relief.
Demmel allowed one run on one hit with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings of relief.