Cobras end season in walk-off fashion

Cobras end season in walk-off fashion

ENID, Okla. — Parkland baseball nearly found a way to keep its title hopes alive and extend its stay in Oklahoma.

LSU-Eunice just had other plans.

Taking a one-run lead into Friday night's eighth inning, the Cobras were unable to subdue a late rally from the Bengals and suffered 5-3 loss in walk-off fashion in the NJCAA Division II World Series championship, punctuating its 51-win season with two straight losses.

The top-seeded Bengals (59-6) scored the game-tying run in the eighth inning and quickly disposed of the first three Cobras batters in the top of the ninth, which set up Slate Fuller's two-run home run to left field just one out away from extra innings.

The Cobras' night on the mound started a little uneasy, as the Bengals squeezed in two runs against starting pitcher Colton Thompson — though, one came in on a passed ball. He finished with three strikeouts and no walks before Garrett Acton took his place to start the third.

Parkland answered with a two-run surge of its own when redshirt sophomore Trystin Raikes lined a double into center field that scored both Brendan Joyce and Connor Aube in the fourth inning.

Then, after watching two strikes wizz by to lead off the fifth, Max Downs smacked his third pitch for a solo shot that gave the Cobras a 3-2 lead.

It was the sharpness of the Cobras' next three relievers — also counting Tom Cheshareck and Ty McCulloch — that kept Parkland's title hopes alive late into the game, though.

Each member of the trio pitched two innings and gave up no more than two hits apiece, while combining for six strikeouts. The fun ended when McCulloch walked one batter, then pegged another to put a runner in scoring position. Koi Westbrook capitalized with a line-drive RBI single.

The Bengals momentum proved too much for sophomore right-hander Christian Sidoti, who gave up a leadoff single before Fuller's two-out homer ensured a national championship for LSU-Eunice.

Parkland coach Dave Garcia praised the Bengals' ability to capitalize on opportunities after Friday's loss.

"That's the difference between great teams and championship teams," he said.

Parkland (51-16-1) had won eight straight games, including the Region 24 title, entering the championship series.