The Odessa College Wranglers made things a little more difficult than necessary Friday, but came away with a sweep of the first WJCAC baseball doubleheader over Luna Community College at American Legion Park.
The Wranglers took the opener 12-5, then rallied for a 10-9 victory in Game 2, but needed Mason McLenna’s pinch-hit, walk-off single in the ninth inning of the second game after letting an 8-3 lead slip away.
“It was big,” McLenna said. “I was glad to do it. It was more for the team. I was wanting to get the W right there for everybody and it was something I wanted to start off the (conference) season with. I just came in, told them I was going to give it my best and get after it and things worked out.”
The comeback became necessary when Luna (6-14 overall, 0-2 WJCAC) scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take a 9-8 lead. The Wranglers (10-10, 2-0) were down to their last strike when Harry Fullerton laced a double to right-center to drive in the tying run. Fullerton, who went 3 for 4 in the game and 4 for 7 for the day, scored the winning run when McLenna turned on an inside fastball.
“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” said Fullerton, who came up with a chance to end the game. “I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, because when that happens you have a good chance of getting out. I was just trying to get a hit. When it got to two strikes, I had to battle. Fortunately for me, (Luna pitcher Manny Cachora) left a pitch over the plate and I was able to drive it to right field.
“On second base, I had full faith in Mason to come up and put a ball in play and score me.”
Mitch Holding worked a one-out walk to get the winning rally started, but Tresten Kennard’s drive to dead center was caught on the warning track by Luna center fielder Wellington Balsley for the second out.
Wranglers coach Kurtis Lay said Holding’s walk was the key to the comeback, allowing Odessa College to get to the heart of the order.
“In that situation, a lot of times guys have a tendency to try to do too much,” Lay said. “(Holding’s) a guy who can leave the yard often, and for him to take his walk was big. Kennard scalded that ball to center field that ended up getting caught, but Harry got down to the last strike and had a good at bat.”
Cade Galvan was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs to help the Wranglers build the early lead, but left the game with an injury in the fifth inning.
In the opener, Odessa College scored five runs in the second and six in the fifth. Holding, Fullerton and Robert Morales each had a double and an RBI for the Wranglers.
Both Odessa College starting pitchers went five innings and left with the lead. Noah Bartlett (3-2) allowed four earned runs on nine hits while striking out five in the first game. Eric Ogletree struck out eight while allowing three runs on six hits in the second game.
“They certainly gave us a chance,” Lay said. “I wish we could have gotten deeper in the ballgame. The biggest thing I want to see is clean innings. You look up throughout the day and it seemed like every inning we had a runner on base.
“We’ve got to get better at that, but they gave us a chance. We’ve got to continue to tack on runs.”
Odessa College 12-10, Luna CC 5-9
Luna………….. 012 020 0 — 5 10 1
Odessa………. 051 060 x — 12 10 2
Donny Trujillo, Fabian Reyes (5), Ivan Varela (5) and Garrett Garcia, Spencer Heyden (6). Josh Bartlett, John Bridgeman (6), J.J. Irvin-Lundquist (7) and Mitch Holding. W — Bartlett (3-2). L — Trujillo (0-1). 2B — Luna: Wellington Balsley, Luis Samarano, Eric Alvarado; Odessa College: Holding, Harry Fullerton, Deylan Moreno. 3B — Luna: Alvarado.
Luna………….. 001 110 105 — 9 11 2
Odessa………. 030 320 002 — 10 10 1
James Ramos, Manny Cachora (6) and Justin Miller. Eric Ogletree, Josef Cihlar (6), J.J. Irvin-Lundquist (7) and Mitch Holding. W — Irvin-Lundquist (1-3). L — Cachora (0-1). 2B — Luna: Eric Alvarado; Odesa College: Harry Fullerton, Cade Galvan. 3B — Luna: Michael Avilucea. HR — Luna: J.R. Maldonado (1), Ricky Martinez (2).
Records — Luna Community College 6-14, 0-2; Odessa College 10-10, 2-0.
Team W L W L
New Mexico JC……………. 13 4 2 0
New Mexico Military Inst. 14 8 2 0
Midland College……………. 9 8 2 0
Odessa College………….. 10 10 2 0
Clarendon College………. 10 5 2 0
Howard College…………….. 8 7 0 2
Western Texas College….. 5 11 0 2
Luna CC………………………. 6 14 0 2
Frank Phillips College…….. 5 13 0 2
El Paso CC…………………… 4 18 0 2
Odessa College 12, Luna Community College 5
Odessa College 10, Luna Community College 9
Clarendon College 17, Frank Phillips College 0
Clarendon College 12, Frank Phillips College 5
Midland College 13, Howard College 9
Midland College 14, Howard College 12
New Mexico Junior College 5, Western Texas College 1
New Mexico Junior College 6, Western Texas College 4
New Mexico Military Institute 7, El Paso Community College 5
New Mexico Military Institute 9, El Paso Community College 7
Luna Community College at Odessa College (DH), noon
Clarendon College at Frank Phillips College (DH), noon
Midland College at Howard College (DH), noon
New Mexico Military Institute at El Paso Community College (DH), 1 p.m.
Western Texas College at New Mexico Junior College (DH), 1 p.m.