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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Conqs end season with wild finishes against Pioneers

  • The task was simple, win two games on Saturday to advance the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Enid, Okla. The opponent on the other hand, very much a challenge for the Dodge City Community College baseball team. But leave it up to the cardiac Conqs to have fans holding their breath until the final out.


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  • The task was simple, win two games on Saturday to advance the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Enid, Okla. The opponent on the other hand, very much a challenge for the Dodge City Community College baseball team. But leave it up to the cardiac Conqs to have fans holding their breath until the final out.
         After surviving the first day of the Plains District Playoffs, losing to Western Oklahoma State and defeating MCC-Longview, the Conqs were faced with a daunting challenge. Not only did they have to face off with Pioneers again to advance, but they had to beat the defending national champions twice to do so.
         And despite finding themselves on the outside looking in, the Conqs nearly pulled off the upset.
         Dodge City overcame a 6-2 deficit in game one for a come from behind 7-6 victory to push it a winner-take-all contest, but they ran out of magic as the Pioneers nearly blew a 7-0 lead, ending the Conqs’ season with a 7-5 defeat.
         “I’m really proud of our group of guys, it wasn’t the season we had hoped for or felt that we could achieve, but down the stretch we did what we needed to do,” said head coach Phil Stephenson. “We knew that we’d have our hands full, but when we needed to make a play to prevent a big inning, we did so. We got a couple of big hits and gave ourselves a chance.”
         The opening contest matched a former champion against a team with its back against the wall, and early on it looked as though the Conqs were just another notch of Western Oklahoma’s win belt. The Pioneers effectively handed starting pitcher Kyle Myers, who worked through the agreesive WOS lineup.
         By the end of the 6th, the Pioneers enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 lead, but the comeback kids had another trick up their sleeve. In the bottom of the 7th, the Conqs plated 4 runs to tie things up at six, leaving the defending champs shell shocked.
         After relief pitcher Sam Brunner shut down the Pioneers in the 7th and 8th, Dodge City made their move as Colton Anderson got on base with no outs, eventually working his way to third before being replaced by pinch runner Josh Ginther.
         Ginther busted for home after a Western Oklahoma wild pitch, sliding underneath the tag to complete the ferocious comeback. Brunner worked out of a jam in the top of the 9th to close out the win and make the 2nd game the deciding one.
    Winner take all
         In the finale, sophomore Cody Voelker picked up the ball for the Conqs, who had used up many of their arms throughout the playoffs. Despite not pitching in nearly a month, Voelker limited the Pioneers to small innings, even though the Dodge City offense had trouble getting started.
    Page 2 of 2 -      Eventually, it looked as though the Pioneers were going to cruise to the World Series, but the Conqs had one last hoorah left for their home field fans. After putting a run on the board in the 8th, Dodge City went into the final frame down by 6.
         However, a 2-run double by Voelker and a 2-run base knock from Jarren Donato cut the lead to 7-5. The Conqs would load up the bases for Zach Harvey with two outs, but the freshman just didn’t have the answer for the Pioneers closer.
         “We came together as a group and battled, which I thought we hadn’t done consistently all year,” Stephenson said. “I told our kids to look at this as a positive, because I think we’re the first team in four years to even push Western in a district playoff game.”
         The loss ends Dodge City’s season with a record of 25-31 and they will now be forced to look to next season, where they will have to replace some huge holes in their offense. They will lose Voelker, who was 2nd in the nation at his level for RBIs with 77, accumulating nearly 50 more total bases than the next highest Conq. Him and Corbin Crockett, who both hit for over .370, will be sorely missed from the lineup, as the coaching staff will piece together what they have beginning in the fall, as Dodge will move back up to the Division I level.
         “You just don’t go out and find guys to replace that kind of production on a regular basis,” Stephenson said. “Changes are going to happen, that’s a part of junior college baseball. We feel like we’ve signed a good group of recruits to come in and now the guys that are returning have a good idea of what it takes to succeed.”
     

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