LUBBOCK – One game, winner take all. That’s what it will come down to for the McLennan Community College baseball team in its quest to reach the Junior College World Series.
Former Riesel standout Jase Embry delivered a complete-game shutout performance on the mound, sending the sixth-ranked Highlanders to a 3-0 victory over Grayson in an elimination game Monday afternoon at the Region V Tournament at Texas Tech’s Dan Law Field.
That sent MCC into the regional final against Weatherford, which was undefeated in the tournament, meaning the Highlanders would need to beat the Coyotes twice. MCC took care of step one by hammering the Coyotes, 17-9, Monday night, setting up one final game on Tuesday for the right to reach Grand Junction.
In Monday’s first game, Embry (7-2) held Grayson to just two hits in a clutch effort. The freshman right-hander faced just 28 batters in the efficient victory, and moved into a tie for the team lead in wins along with Bailey Horn and Jason Blanchard.
The Highlanders (50-11) gave Embry all the run support he’d need in the first inning. MCC opened with a three-run first, as Chris Roller got things rolling with a leadoff triple and then scored on a single by Joe Breaux. Nic Motley followed by reaching on a Grayson error that allowed Breaux to score, and the Highlanders added one more in the inning on Brendan Venter’s RBI single.
Grayson starter Spencer Tynes recovered to throw six straight scoreless innings after the first, and the Vikings’ bullpen also kept MCC from crossing the plate. But Embry continued to deal, and Grayson’s season came to a close.
In the Weatherford-MCC game, the Highlanders showed a mighty hitting stroke in running away with the contest. MCC jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings, then later broke it open with a four-run fourth and a eight-run sixth inning.
MCC batted around three different times, including sending 12 hitters to the plate in the sixth. Venter had a two-run homer for the Highlanders in that inning. Overall, MCC finished with 17 hits.
The Highlanders will try to keep that momentum going when the teams meet again at 1 p.m. Tuesday. MCC is trying to come out of the loser’s bracket to reach Grand Junction, which would be the second World Series appearance in Mitch Thompson’s four years as head coach.