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College baseball: JCC baseball splits with Herkimer County CC

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Jefferson Community College didn’t accomplish its ultimate goal of sweeping first-place Herkimer County CC in a Region 3 East Division baseball doubleheader on Thursday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

But the second-place Cannoneers did the next best thing. They earned a split with a gutty 11-8 come-from-behind win in the opener, and all but secured a first-round home playoff berth in the Region 3 Tournament.

JCC (24-15 overall, 18-6 Region) finally ran out of gas in the second game as the Generals (21-12, 20-4) scored 10 runs in the final two innings to achieve a split with a 12-1 victory.

John Northrop’s club proved once again how resilient it is by rallying twice from deficits in the opener and splitting the season four-game series with Herkimer CCC.

“We’re the only team in the region to beat them twice,’’ Northrop said. “That first game proved how tough we are because in past years we probably would have just caved in if we fell behind early. But this team just picks itself back up and keeps competing.’’

Herkimer CCC scored three runs in the first inning off JCC right-hander Josh Amann. But the Cannoneers answered with a run in the bottom half on Jason Hardie RBI single and two more in the third to tie it on run-scoring singles by Tyler Decker and Ariel Suriel.

Then, after Herkimer CCC scored four runs in the fourth, JCC answered with one of its most productive innings of the season. Nathan Mastervick’s two-run triple was the highlight of an eight-run inning. Erric Barnier contributed a double that drove in a run, and Decker, Kyle Simmons and Calder Roggie also delivered RBI singles.

“Falling behind is no big deal to this team,’’ said Decker, the South Jefferson product who finished 3-for-4 in the first game. “We just feel like we can score on anybody, so a one- or two-run lead is not really safe against us.’’

Amann, a sophomore out of Carthage who improved to 6-0, battled hard even though he allowed 13 hits and wasn’t really sharp. However, his toughness came through in the seventh when Herkimer CCC loaded the bases with no outs, bringing the tying run to the plate.

Northrop visited the mound and told Amann, “It’s your game. Josh has been getting himself out of trouble all season, so I had confidence he could do it again.’’

Amann quickly enticed Brent Baker to ground into a 5-4-3 double play started by third-baseman Suriel. Second baseman Roggie, from Lowville, then tracked down a short fly ball into right field to end the game.

“I just told myself I’ve got to get a ground ball,’’ said Amann, who didn’t walk a batter in going the distance. “Knowing coach had faith in me was big. And my defense came through when they had to.’’

Louie Diaz finished 2-for-4 with a double for JCC, while Simmons and Hardie both went 2-for-4 as the Cannoneers banged out 13 hits.

Cody Newbigging had three hits and three RBIs for Herkimer CCC.

The Cannoneers couldn’t come up with the big hit early in the second game, stranding five runners over the first four innings and scoring just one run on a Mastervick single.

General Brown freshman Jordan Delaney pitched five solid innings for JCC in the nightcap, allowing two runs on four hits and left trailing 2-1.

But Herkimer CCC touched reliever Eury Villalona for four runs in the sixth and James Matthews for two more. Brandon Overstreet slugged a grand slam for the Generals in the top of the seventh.

JCC concludes the regular season with a home twin bill vs. third-place Hudson Valley CC on Saturday and travels to SUNY Adirondack for two on Sunday. The regionals begin a week from Saturday with the top two seeds in each division hosting the first two games of a best-of-three series.

“We’re in good shape with one more win,’’ Northrop said. “But we want to finish off strong.’’

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