MCC first baseman James Rudkin (left) tags out Northwest Florida’s Aaron Palmer on Saturday.

Grand Junction Sentinel— Christopher Tomlinson

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The magical ride that the McLennan Community College baseball team put togehter came to an end in humbling fashion, as the Highlanders fell to Northwest Florida St, 15-1, Saturday night in the championship game of the NJCAA World Series.

The Highlander bats were not the only problem in this one, as the lack of fresh arms forced MCC to throw anything and everything they had at the Raiders.

Having played 13 innings on Friday, the Highlanders needed Nathan Bertness to eat up innings. Bertness, who last pitched 41/3 innings on Tuesday and allowed only two earned runs against San Jacinto appeared to be sharp early on. Bertness found a way to escape a few james and allowed only a single run through the first three innings.

The Highlanders boarded a run in the first to tie the game. With a man on second, James Rudkin stroked a single to left, scoring the Highlnder’s first, but sadly enough, only run. But Northwest Florida St. powered back, scoring six runs in the fourth.

After Bertness walked several Raider hitters to load the bases, the sophomore allowed another walk, plating a run. The next Raider hitter slapped a two-RBI single, forcing McLennan head coach Mitch Thompson to pull Bertness in favor of Zachary Kornely, who promptly gave up a three-run home run to Dakota Dean.

Trailing by six heading into the fifth, the Highlanders never seemed to mount any sort of a serious rally. Nathan Bertness lasted 31/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits. He finished with five walks and three strikeouts.

Kornely went two innings, giving up five earned runs and six hits.

MCC was playing for its first national title since 1983, which also marked the program’s last trip to the World Series. This was MCC’s second year under Thompson.

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