Kansas City, MO - The College of the Ozarks Baseball Bobcats opened play in the 2022 NCCAA World Series Friday morning and faced the Carolina University Bruins. The Bobcats entered the tournament the number nine seed and the winners of the NCCAA Independent Regional. Their 31-20 record pitted them against Carolina University, the number eight seed and the South Region Champion. With a record of 36-13, the Bruins were sure to be no easy task and the Bobcats, who are playing their best baseball of the season, would need to continue that trend.
The Bobcats were the visitor on the scoreboard in the opener and they looked to put pressure on the Bruins in the early going. Chuck Hill led off with an infield single and promptly stole second. Hill then advanced to third on a wild pitch and Ryan Daggs walked to put runners on the corners with nobody out. An errant thrown from the catcher to the pitcher resulted in Hill being thrown out at the plate as he attempted to score and Daggs moved to second. A one-out single off the bat of Caleb Johnson drove in Daggs and the Bobcats took the early 1-0 lead. Trey Riley singled but the Bobcats were unable to plate more runs and the Bruins came up in the bottom of the first. Spencer Green took the hill for the Bobcats and the Bruins wasted little time in providing an answer to the Bobcat offense. Scoring on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly, the Bruins tied it 1-1 before Greene and the Bobcats could close the door. Both teams failed to score in the next two innings and the fourth inning looked to be going the same direction. With two quick outs, Zane Kelley smacked a single up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch. Cadan Kauffman added to his RBI total with a single to center and the Bobcats regained the lead, 2-1. A strikeout ended the inning and Greene went back to the mound with a one run lead. Greene continued to cruise through the bottom of the fourth and the Bobcats stranded a leadoff, Chuck Hill single, in the top of the fifth. Greene pitched around a single and a walk in the fifth with the aid of a double play and the game moved to the sixth with the Bobcats clinging to a 2-1 lead. A pair of singles by Trey Riley and Zane Kelley gave the Bobcats a chance to extend their lead, but a trio of strikeouts ended the threat, and the runners were left aboard. Greene continued to keep the Bruin bats off balance pitching around a one-out single in the bottom of the inning to maintain the 2-1 advantage. The Bobcats added to their lead in the top of the seventh with a leadoff double by Chuck Hill and a wild pitch that moved him to third. Ryan Daggs took the next pitch to right for a sacrifice fly to send Hill across the increasing the lead to 3-1. Spencer Greene singled but a double play ended the Bobcat half and the Bruins come up with the pressure of the late innings mounting. Greene continued to show composure and pitched out of a tight jam in the bottom of the inning. With runners at second and third with only one out, Greene induced an infield pop up and a ground ball to short that likely saved the game. A Titus Atkins single was all the offense for the Bobcats in the eighth and Greene sailed through the bottom half allowing only a two-out walk. The Bobcats threatened to add some insurance in the top of the ninth with a pair of singles off the bats of Greene and Johnson, but the timely hit was evasive. The Bobcats were three outs away from the opening round win and Spencer Greene made his way back to the mound to try and close it out. The first two outs were quickly recorded but a Bruin single extended the game. Greene threw another groundball to third and Ryan Daggs scooped it up and tossed it to first for the final out and the 3-1 win.
The Bobcats pounded out 13 hits and Spencer Greene threw a complete game gem, pitching out of several tight situations to secure the Bobcat win. Several Bobcats turned in multi-hit performances including Chuck Hill with three hits (2B), and Spencer Greene, Caleb Johnson, Trey Riley, and Zane Kelley each contributed a pair of hits. Titus Atkins and Cadan Kauffman added a hit each in the win.
The Bobcats are back in action Saturday at 9 AM as they face the number one seed, Southwestern Assemblies of God University. They will then play again at 3 PM in either the winner’s side of the bracket, or the loser’s side, depending on the outcome of the 9 AM game.