Apaches fall to Joliet, face elimination Monday

Tyler Junior College's Trevor Clifton (8) is out at second base as Joliet shortstop Cole Judy fires to first for a double play during the second inning of their NJCAA Division III World Series game Sunday at Mike Carter Field (Vanessa E. Curry)

Tyler Junior College experienced two ugly innings on Sun-day, but for Joliet (Ill.) Junior College they were a thing of beauty.

Joliet scored four runs in the second inning and three in the eighth to rally past the Apaches, 7-5, in the NJCAA Division III World Series at Mike Carter Field.

Both teams entered unbeaten in the double elimination tournament, but the No. 6 Wolves (35-29) advance to the unbeaten game at 7 p.m. Monday.

The No. 3 Apaches (37-19) will play an elimination game against No. 1 Gloucester County (N.J.) at noon Monday.

The game turned in the eighth as the Apaches had a runner thrown out at the plate by rightfielder Rick Gazarek and in the bottom of the frame the Wolves took advantage of poor decisions and a balk.

In the eighth inning, with the Apaches leading 5-4, Hunter Sutton doubled to right field (his third hit of the game). Ron Reemts pinch run and tried to score on Jeremy Christian’s single to right. However, Gazarek’s throw beat him and catcher Casey Papp applied the tag.

Then it was the Wolves’ turn. Gazarek had an infield single and after Nick Johnson recorded a strikeout, things went bad for Tyler.

Papp grounded a ball to second baseman Connor Lewis, who tried to flip the ball to shortstop Tyler Ernest. Instead the ball went high in the air and fell in the infield. As Ernest tried to gather in the toss, he collided with Gazarek. Ernest flipped and fell to the ground.

After a few minutes, Ernest tried to shake off the effects of the collision. However, both Joliet runners were safe.

The Wolves continued their assault as leadoff hitter Cole Judy singled to right to load the bases.

Joliet tied the game 5-5 on Dakota Brown’s RBI single.

Then, Johnson was called for a balk, bringing home the go-ahead run.

“The balk call was huge,” Jo-liet coach Wayne L. Hill said. “I was watching the runner at second base so I have no idea what he did.

“I tip my hat to Tyler; I tip my hat to my own kids. When we were down 3-0 we could have rolled over and died.”

After TJC third baseman Jere-my Christian made a great stop and threw home to get Judy, Brown scored on an errant pickoff throw by reliever Zach Aitken.

The damage was done and the Apaches could not rally in the ninth.

Earlier, the Wolves scored four runs in the second to overcome the Apaches’ 3-0 lead.

Joliet had three hits (Dan Eliopulos, Cody Krilich, Papp) in the inning, but also a runner reached after a strikeout, along with two walks.

“We were in position to win,” TJC coach Doug Wren said. “In six or seven innings we pitched and played pretty well. … We were six outs away and we didn’t close it down. They got some hits when they needed too. … We didn’t minimize the damage when we needed too.”

The Apaches’ Kyle Sargent pitched well in relief of starter Payton Smith. Sargent hurled 4 1-3 innings, striking out five and not allowing a run.

Along with Sutton’s three hits, Ernest and Christian had two hits apiece. Jon McManemin and Christian had two RBIs each.

Judy and Eliopulos led the Wolves with two hits each.

Wren is hopeful his team can bounce back.

“In this tournament, you are never out of it,” Wren said. “We are still confident in our club; and hopefully we will see these guys (Wolves) in the national championship game.”

Around 1,000 fans turned out to watch the game on a sun-swept Sunday afternoon.

SMOKE SIGNALS: Mike Carter Field, 1900 W. Houston St., is between the Tyler Rose Garden and Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. … Ticket prices are: tournament pass (adults only) $20; single day pass (adult) $5; single day pass (students/children) $3; children 10 & under (free) and any Little League player in uniform (free). … Fans can watch and listen to the games on www.njcaatv.ihigh.com.

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Game 7

No. 6 Joliet (Ill) 7, No. 3 Tyler 5

Tyler 120 011 000 — 5 10 2

Joliet 040 000 03x — 7 11 2

Payton Smith, Kyle Sargent (3), Jackie Black (7), Nick Johnson (7), Zach Aitken (8) and Trevor Clifton. Jared Steck, Austin Vasquez (6), Jonathan Rosario (8) and Casey Papp.

W – Vazquez (4-4), L – Johnson (2-2). S – Rosario (5).

2B – TJC: Hunter Sutton, Jeremy Chris-tian, Connor Lewis. JJC: Luke Andrade, Trey Russell.

SH – TJC: Nico Moran 2. SF – TJC: Christian. SB – TJC: Tyler Ernest.

DP – TJC 2, Joliet 2. LOB – TJC 7, Joliet 9.

RECORDS — Tyler 37-19. Joliet 35-29.

NEXT UP — Game 9: Tyler vs. Gloucester (N.J.), noon Monday; Game 11: Joliet vs. TBA, 7 p.m. Monday.

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