Highlanders make dramatic comeback to win Region V Championship, qualify for JUCO World Series

Highlanders make dramatic comeback to win Region V Championship, qualify for JUCO World Series

The McLennan Highlanders claimed the Region V Championship and punched their ticket to the JUCO World Series with a 14-8 victory over the Weatherford Coyotes Tuesday afternoon in Lubbock. Palmer Wenzel got the win on the mound as the Highlanders improved to 51-11 on the season.

Weatherford jumped out early, scoring six runs in the bottom of the second inning. Payton Rhodes and Jamie Lovell drew back-to-back walks. Dezmond Chumley followed with a double to score Rhodes. Dalton Dunn singled to load the bases. Malik Jones was safe at first on a Highlander error, bringing Lovell in to score. Andrew Keefer followed with a grand slam.

The Highlanders didn't get down and continued to hold their heads up as they began to chip away at the Coyotes' lead. The first McLennan run scored in the bottom of the second as Cole Haring singled, moved to second on the walk of Chase Sortor and scored on a single by Mario Vela.

Two more McLennan runs scored in the fourth. Sortor singled and Vela walked. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by George Callil. Sortor scored on a single by Chris Roller, and Vela scored on a ground out by Joe Breaux.

The Highlanders trimmed the Coyotes' lead to one, 6-5, with two runs in the sixth. Callil singled but was out at second on a fielder's choice by Roller. Josh Breaux followed with a two-run bomb over the left-field fence. 

McLennan exploded with a hit parade in the bottom of the seventh, scoring seven runs to take a commanding 12-6 lead. Sortor doubled and Haring singled. Vela bunted for a single, bringing Sortor in to score. Callil followed with a fielder's choice, putting Vela out at second. Roller then tripled to score Haring and Callil. Joe Breaux doubled to score Roller, and Josh Breaux singled to score Joe. Nic Motley followed with a two-run homer. 

The Coyotes' final two runs came in the top of the eighth as Rhodes walked and scored on a Chumley home run.

The Highlanders rounded out the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Vela singled and moved to second on another sacrifice bunt by Callil. Joe Breaux was hit by the pitch, and Josh Breaux doubled to score Callil and Joe.

McLennan will represent Region V and the Southwestern District at the JUCO World Series May 27-June 2 at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Highlanders will face the representative from the Eastern District at 8:30 p.m. (CST) Sunday, May 28. 

McLennan 14, Weatherford 8
Weatherford 060 000 020 – 8 7 1
McLennan 010 202 72x – 14 18 2
Ryan Van Leeuwen, Austin Cornish (4), Tyler Perez (7), Toby Davis (7), Zach Boyett (8) and Landon Gray. Bailey Horn, Palmer Wenzel (4), Josh Breaux (8) and Nic Motley. WP: Wenzel; LP: Cornish. Leading hitters – Weatherford: Andrew Keefer (3-5, HR, 4 RBI), Payton Rhodes (1-2, 2B), Dezmond Chumley (2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) and Dalton Dunn (1-3, 2B); McLennan: Chris Roller (3-6, 3B, 3 RBI), Joe Breaux (1-3, 2B, 2 RBI), Josh Breaux (3-5, 2B, HR, 5 RBI), Nic Motley (1-4, HR, 2 RBI), Chase Sortor (2-3), Cole Haring (3-5, 2B) and Mario Vela (3-4, 2 RBI). Record: McLennan 51-11 (26-6).