HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Seventh-ranked Western Oklahoma State College won the Home Run Derby Saturday at Hot Springs High School, and swept two from National Park College, 10-6 and 5-3.
The Pioneers (30-10, 19-3), the No. 1 team in NJCAA Region 2, hit nine home runs in the doubleheader. Catcher Rodrigo Montenegro hit the last dinger in the ninth inning of the nightcap.
NPC hit seven home runs, including two by Tristen Jamison and Nathan Kirkpatrick that gave the Nighthawks a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning of the second game. The first two batters in the top of the eighth homered to tie the game, 3-3.
“We played pretty well all day,” said NPC coach Rich Thompson. “I can’t be too mad at them because of the way we played. We battled, and were only one or two pitches away from winning the second game.”
Western Oklahoma is No. 1 in NJCAA Region 2
The Nighthawks (21-23, 10-12) have six games remaining before the Region 2 Tournament at Dave Allen Memorial Park in Enid, Okla. That includes Sunday’s doubleheader with the Pioneers, and four games with Rich Mountain next week.
If Thompson had any concern about qualifying for the postseason, he got some good news this week. There’s a new bracket for the regional event, which includes a play-in game.
“One win Sunday would really be nice, but it’s really going to come down to that last series with Rich Mountain,” said Thompson. “It’ll be the battle of Arkansas.”
NPC’s Jamison going to Arkansas State
Freshman Tristen Jamison has some news for Thompson. The Nighthawks’ star third baseman has commited to Arkansas State University. Jamison is hitting .350 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs in 43 games.
“Tristen has had some really big hits for us this season,” said Thompson, a native Australian, and former Major Leaguer. “Unfortunately for us he’ll be playing Division I baseball next season. We’d love to keep him, but he’s got a great opportunity to go up and play with the Red Wolves.”
First baseman hit two home runs in Saturday’s first game, giving him 12 roundtrippers this season. Jesus Minjarez and Panama H-Mendez also homered in the first game. National Park has hit 99 home runs this season in 44 games.
The Nighthawks also got outstanding pitching performances from sophomore Danny O’Donnell and Robby Caro. O’Donnell came on in relief in the opener, and held the Pioneers scoreless for three innings. Caro started the second game, allowing one run in the first seven innings. Jhonny Felix hit two home runs off Caro. Pablo Jacquez and Felix hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth.