The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) baseball team will play for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XI championship after defeating second-seeded North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) and top-seeded Southeastern Community College (SECC) in elimination games May 13 at Clinton.
The Bears, 28-27 overall and seeded sixth, clawed their way through the consolation bracket after dropping a 9-1 decision to third-seeded Kirkwood Community College (KCC) in their tournament opener on May 10.
DMACC will face that same KCC team at 11 a.m. May 14 in the championship game and will have to defeat the Eagles twice to win their first Region XI championship since 2012. A second championship game would be played immediately following the first championship game if DMACC is victorious in the first game.
Following their loss to KCC, the Bears kept their title hopes alive with an 11-3 win over seventh-seeded Northeast (Neb.) Community College (NECC) in an elimination game on May 11. On May 12, DMACC defeated fifth-seeded Ellsworth Community College (ECC),11-2, in another elimination game, setting up a meeting with NIACC on May today. The Bears won that one, 12-8, behind a nine-run third inning to eliminate the Trojans and then defeated SECC 5-3 to send the Blackhawks to the sidelines.
Freshman Roman Vega, Jr., of Buffalo, Minn., had three hits, including a double, and drove in two runs to lead DMACC past NECC on May 11. Freshmen Tavien Gillette of Rock Island, Ill., and Jacob Pinkerton of Beatrice, Neb., also had two hits in the game and sophomore Matt Krambeck of Louisville, Neb., joined Vega with two RBIs.
DMACC led 6-0 after two innings, 8-3 after three innings and closed out the win with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. The game was called because of the mercy rule after NECC batted in the top of the seventh.
Freshman Spencer Hanson of West Des Moines improved to 7-2 with the win. He went the distance, allowing three runs on nine hits and struck out two batters.
The Bears also got a seven-inning win over ECC on May 12. Krambeck belted a home run and drove in two runs and freshman Calen Schwabe of Thompson, N.D., collected three RBIs in the win. Vega had three hits, including a double, and freshmen Austin Murr of Denmark Township, Minn., and Denver Blinn of West Fargo, N.D., had two hits apiece. Blinn also drove in a pair of runs.
DMACC led 4-2 after five innings and put the game away with three runs in the sixth and four in the seventh.
Freshman Nate Holliday of Muscatine pitched four and a third innings, allowing two Rons on five hits. He struck out one batter and walked three. Freshman Jakob Richardson of Cave Creek, Ariz., pitched two and two-thirds innings and got his fourth win of the season against three losses. He struck out three and walked one.
DMACC collected 18 hits, including 16 singles, in defeating NIACC. Schwabe, Pinkerton and freshman Morgan Holmes of Minneapolis, Minn., had three hits apiece and Krambeck, Gillette, Holmes and Pinkerton drove in two runs apiece.
DMACC trailed 2-0 after two innings and led 9-2 after scoring nine runs in the third. NIACC answered with a run in the bottom of the third and trailed 10-3 before scoring five times in the bottom of the seventh. DMACC added its final two runs in the top of the ninth to get the win.
Freshman Henry Ristvedt of Savage, Minn., pitched five innings and improved to 2-0 with the win. He allowed three runs on three hits, struck out five and walked one. Sophomore Alec Holcomb of Owatonna, Minn., worked an inning and two-thirds, allowing five runs on three hits with one strikeout and three walks. Richardson pitched the last two and a third innings and earned his third save of the season. He surrendered one hit, struck out one batter and walked two.
Holmes had three hits and drove in three runs to lift the Bears past SECC. Krambeck, Blinn and freshman Hayden Fiala of Sioux Falls, S.D., had two hits apiece and Schwabe and Krambeck drove in one run apiece.
DMACC took a 2-0 lead in the second and led 2-1 after SECC scored in the bottom of the third. The Bears went ahead 3-1 with a run in the top of the fifth but SECC tied it with two runs in the bottom of the inning. DMACC then scored one in the seventh and one in the eighth to get the win.
Freshman Jackson Uner of Stillwater, Minn., pitched the first four and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He struck out four and walked two. Sophomore Luke Longmuir of Cottage Grove, Minn., pitched four and a third innings and got his fourth win of the season against two losses. He allowed three hits and struck out three batters.
KCC has had the upper hand against DMACC this season, defeating the Bears 10-8 and 5-1 during the regular season in addition to the 9-1 win in the opening round of the Region XI tournament. A second doubleheader between the two teams during the regular season was cancelled because of inclement weather.
The Region XI champion will advance to the NJCAA North Plains District May 19 and 20 at the home of the Region XI champion. The North Plains District champion advances to the NJCAA Division II World Series May 26 to June 2 at Enid, Okla.