Delgado had some history on its side.
The Dolphins made a run to the NJCAA College World Series the last time it hosted a regional at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium back in 2016.
But Crowder College of Missouri had other plans, as the Roughriders showed why they’re one of the top teams in the country with a 9-1 win on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the South Central District Championship.
It started off well enough for Delgado (37-16), with starting pitcher William Reed (1-1) retiring the first seven batters he faced. Adamo Stornello was the first player to reach base for Crowder (53-11) on a throwing error by Delgado shortstop Ethan Lege with one out in the third inning. Clayton Gray ripped a single down the right-field line, and Josh Patrick and Peyton Holt combined for three RBIs on back-to-back doubles to give the Roughriders a 3-0 advantage.
Reed gave up four runs (one earned) on four hits with a strikeout in his three innings of work.
Two more runs in the fourth frame pushed Crowder’s lead to 5-0 on RBIs by Gray and Landrey Wilkerson. Meanwhile, Roughriders starting pitcher Riely Hunsaker (3-3) kept the Delgado hitters off balance and induced weak contact for a number of easy outs in his 6 1/3 innings of work. He gave up one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts.
The one run came on a homer in the bottom of the sixth inning by Josh Alexander to inch Delgado closer at 5-1. The Dolphins had a scoring opportunity against Hunsaker in the fourth inning after back-to-back base hits by Stutes and Alexander with one out, but a strikeout and fly out ended the threat.
“(Hunsaker) threw velocity at us early, and we felt like we had to catch up,” Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann said. “We started to sell out on velocity and chase breaking balls out of the zone. When a guy is throwing above what you’re used to seeing, then you chase the breaking ball. ”
A run in the seventh inning and three runs in the eighth inning completed the scoring for Crowder, which will be making its second-straight trip to the NJCAA College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Bryan Broussard reached base in all three of his plate appearances on the afternoon via a base hit, a hit by pitch and a walk. Stutes went 1 for 3 with a walk, and Alexander went 2 for 4 with a solo home run to lead Delgado.
The Dolphins were arguably the toughest regional in the country, as Eastern Oklahoma State College was ranked No. 7 in the nation and finished the season with a gaudy 51-5 record. Crowder was the fifth-ranked squad and had multiple players who signed to play on programs such as LSU and Arkansas next season.
Delgado trailed Nunez Community College by seven runs in the Region XXIII championship game and erased the deficit to win 10-9 that gave it the opportunity to host the South Central District Championship. The Dolphins downed EOSC but lost to Crowder on Friday, and a ninth-inning win against the Roughriders on Saturday set up Sunday’s championship game.
A win would’ve sent Delgado to its sixth World Series.
“We had our ups and downs for sure,” Lege said. “But we were able to get through the downs. That’s why we made it this far. ”