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BCC advances for first time to World Series

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 MOREHEAD CITY—The Brunswick Community College baseball team beat Lenoir Community College 9-5 Monday night, winning the Region 10 championship series and advancing for the first time to the NJCAA Division II World Series May 25-June 1 in Enid, Okla.

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BCC coach Robbie Allen said he thought he had a good team, but injuries nearly ended its championship run. Injuries ended the season for two of the pitchers. Zachary Andrews, the Region 10 Player of the Year, never pitched in this tournament because of a late-season injury. Four position players were bothered by injuries but played in the tournament.

“I told them (at the start of the season) ‘on paper,’ we were really good,” Allen said. “We were really gifted and talented all the way around—pitching staff and everything. We had so many injuries at the end I didn’t know whether we could overcome it or not, especially after that Wake Tech series, where we dropped three (straight games).”

Allen was a member of Clemson’s World Series team in 1980. This is the sixth season of BCC baseball, and Allen has been its coach all six seasons. Some former players were at the game. Jay Cannon, now at ECU, and Josh Powell now at Coastal Carolina, talked to the team before the game.

“It was a good time for them to be here and be a part of this,” Allen said.

Allen was later named Region 10 Coach of the Year.

“As far as me being coach of the year, good players make good coaches,” he said. “I didn’t wave any magic wand or anything like that. All I did was try to keep them together and focused.

 “I think Zack deserved to be player of the year. He could possibly be an All-American.”

The Dolphins (37-13) looked like All-Americans in the bottom of the sixth inning against Lenoir, scoring six runs in taking an 8-3 lead.

Anthony Colantino led off with a double to center. Alex Sasser walked. Tony Sanchez, after twice failing to bunt, singled home a run that tied the score 3-3. Michael Deese was safe on a fielder’s choice and Sasser scored.

Ryan Hill, on the first pitch, beat out a bunt. Hunter Allen walked, loading the bases. Jonathan Corbett singled to center, driving home two runs and giving BCC a 6-3 lead.

Against a new pitcher, Ryan Brendle doubled to right field, scoring Allen, and the lead went to 8-3 when Patrick Graham reached on a fielder’s choice.

Brendle finished 3-for-4 and with a walk, two doubles and one RBI. Sanchez was 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs. Alex Sasser had a hit and two walks.

Matt Lowry, the winning pitcher in an eight-inning, 134-pitch shutout on Friday against Rockingham, was the winning pitcher in the title game. In 124 pitches in seven innings, he gave up three runs and five hits. He walked six, hit one and struck out seven.

Kyle Shields pitched the final two innings. He threw 19 pitches in two scoreless innings on Sunday in the 6-3 victory over Region 10 regular-season champion Catawba, and he threw 32 pitches in two scoreless innings in the 4-3 victory Saturday against Pasco Hernando. He threw nine pitches in one scoreless inning in the victory Friday.

Lenoir scored twice against Shields and had two runners on base and no one out in the ninth. But Shields ended the game with two strikeouts and a pop-up. The team celebrated the championship at the pitcher’s mound.

Allen’s next concern is raising money for the trip to the World Series. As hopeful as he was of making the series, he said money for it was not in the budget.

“We’ll ask for donations and funds, wherever we can get them,” he said.