CONWAY, SC - In a game that featured two 2017 NJCAA World Series participants, the stage needed to meet the matchup. The contest between the defending NJCAA Division II National Champion Kankakee (Kan'uh'kee) CC Cavaliers, and the defending NJCAA Region XIX Champion Cumberland CC Dukes, was originally scheduled to be played at the Ripken Experience complex in Myrtle Beach, SC. Considering this was a matchup between two traditional national powers, the game was moved to Springs Brooks Stadium on the campus of the 2016 NCAA National Champion Coastal Carolina University. The Dukes entered the game as the number 1 ranked Division III team in the country, with Kankakee ranked 17th in Divsion II respectively.
The first 3 innings of the game served as a preview of just how electric this game would be for both offenses as 9 runs combined would cross the plate with the Dukes holding a 5-4 lead at the end of three. Kankakee would take the lead in the bottom of the 4th scoring three runs on starter Anthony Capasso that would chase him from the game before he could finish the inning. Reigning 2017 Region XIX Pitcher of the Year, Jarrett Quinn would relieve Capasso and promptly add two more strikeouts to his already impressive 2018 campaign to end the big inning. Quinn would hold the Cavaliers scoreless over the next 2 innings to give the Dukes a chance to climb their way back into the ball game.
They would do so in the top of the 6th by sending 13 batters to the plate to score 9 runs to take a 14-7 lead. During their breakout inning, Misael Castillo and Brian Gallante reached base twice and scored two runs apiece. The big blow came from freshman third baseman, Dylan Scaranda, who drilled a double to the left center field gap to score Darrius Land and Patrick Meenan. In total, the Dukes would tally 6 hits in the inning. Second basemen Ryan McIsaac would add a sacrifice fly that would score Eric Stewart, who reached base on an error.
Kankakee would not go away as they would make a final push in their half of the 7th inning. The Cavaliers would send 11 batters to the plate scoring 5 runs by taking an aggressive offensive approach to chase Jarrett Quinn from the game. Isaiah Hammond, who was in the lineup as the Designated Hitter, would enter the game to finish out the inning with a big strikeout with the bases loaded. With the score at 14-12, the crowd at Springs Brooks Stadium would anticipate a finish many expected between these two nationally ranked teams.
The Cumberland offense would disappoint as they plated 3 runs in the top of the 9th by imposing an aggressive approach of their own. Eric Stewart would lead off the inning with a hard hit single to right and Isaiah Hammond would follow up with a hit by pitch. Two batters later, Ryan McIssac would deliver a single to right himself to score Stewart to extend the lead to 15-12. After a strikeout and a hit by pitch, Nicholas Milhan would deliver his second hit of the game to score Hammond and McIssac to close the scoring at 17-12. Kankakee would go quietly in the 9th to seal the win for the Dukes.
The win moves the Dukes to 10-3. Cumberland next takes the field on Saturday, when they will face Massasoit Community College at the Ripken Experience complex. First pitch is slated for 3 PM.