The Raiders out-hit Jefferson College twice on Saturday. They couldn't string together consecutive hits, though, and lost both games in a four-game series sweep.
Three Rivers had its shots thanks to some solid pitching in both games. The Vikings were held scoreless for five full innings in game one. They eventually broke through with a two-run home run to secure a 3-1 win.
In game two, Jefferson (42-8, 25-4 Region XVI) got on the board in the first inning, but Austin Williams was dealing and held the visitors scoreless for the next four innings. The offense never found consistency, though, dropping the game 6-1 and possibly ending Three Rivers' regular season.
The Raiders (23-27-1, 9-22-1 Region XVI) might have to make up a previous game against St. Charles that was called due to darkness, but that'll only happen if the standings are affected by the outcome of that game.
Stranding runners was a big problem for the Raiders throughout the day. In game one, Three Rivers stranded six runners. In game two, 10 were left on base. In the bottom of the seventh, Three Rivers loaded the bases with one out. An infield fly and a fly out to center field stranded all three and kept the Raiders off the board.
"Their lefty made some good pitches, but there were some balls that we hit well," Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey said. "... Just a tough deal. Our guys competed well, and we got great starting pitching out of River (Hunt) and Austin in both games. I'd take those guys against anybody. They're going to give us a chance."
Nick Fakouri connected on a solo home run in the eighth, but that's all the Raiders could drive home.
"The pitch before that was an inside fastball. I didn't really like the call, you know? I just brushed it off. I figured, 2-2, he's going to come back with another one, and that's what I got and I just tried to put a good swing on it," Fakouri said. (Overall), I don't think much needed to change. We put good swings on the ball. They just didn't drop, and that's baseball sometimes."
Williams was solid aside from his last 1/3 inning at the plate. He spent 6 1/3 innings on the mound, allowing four hits, three earned runs and four walks. He struck out eight for a 4.26 ERA. Elvin Diaz pitched two innings and gave up one hit, walking two and striking out one. Nash Winters closed with 2/3 innings. He gave up a hit and a walk to go along with one strikeout.
It was the final home game of the season. That brings a bittersweet feeling for the sophomores and the teammates they've grown close with.
"I love it. I hate that I only got one year with them," Fakouri said. "If anything, that's the only bad thing about JUCO. You get so close to a group of guys, and in a year they're gone, but they're friends for life," Fakouri said.
This sophomore class joined with the freshmen to lead the Raiders to their first 20-win season in five years, a step in the right direction for the program.
"Those sophomores have been very influential in our team. It's really nice to see guys work and get better, and that's something I can say with confidence about this group of sophomores," Burkey said. They've been good leaders with their work ethic, and it's been a pleasure coaching them."
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic