05/25/08 — Lancers win World Series opener

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Lancers win World Series opener

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on May 25, 2008 2:02 AM


Special to the News-Argus

MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- Lenoir Community College pitcher T.J. Hinson proved an old baseball adage -- "Good pitching beats good hitting" -- correct in the first game of the 2008 National Junior College Athletic Association Division 2 World Series at USA Stadium on Saturday.

Hinson, a righthander from Southern Wayne High School, handcuffed the nation's best offense from Western Oklahoma State College for eight innings as he led the Lancers to a 6-2 win.

The victory advances the top-ranked Lancers (52-10) to today's second-round game against Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College (26-22).

The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. CDT, 4 p.m. EDT, in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.

Hinson shut down a Pioneers offense that entered the game with 144 home runs and was averaging more than 11 runs a game. He struck out six without a walk and scattered six hits in eight innings of work.

"I've been looking for a guy to take the ball and say, 'You will not beat me,' " LCC coach Stony Wine said of Hinson. "He's done that consistently for a while now."

Control was essential to Hinson's success on Saturday.

"I was throwing my curveball for strikes and getting ahead of batters," Hinson said. "That's all you have to do to win."

The key to the game for Hinson, though, came from the LCC bats as the Lancers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Kent Burford led off the game with a walk and was followed by Ben Billingsley's single. Sophomore outfielder Ryan Norton sent a double to right centerfield and sent Burford and Billingsley home with a two-run cushion before there were any outs.

The lead helped Hinson.

"T.J. is a pitcher who throws on confidence and emotion," Norton said. "To get those two runs early was important and special."

LCC went ahead 3-0 on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Brian Mills in the fifth. Rob Rodriguez led off the Pioneers' half of the fifth with a home run and the Pioneers pulled to within 3-2 in the eighth inning when Wilsisky Baez doubled and went home on two wild pitches from Hinson, while the sophomore was trying to intentionally walk Juan Carlos Perez, the nation's leader (37) in home runs this season.

Three insurance runs by LCC in the top of the ninth - two on Western Oklahoma State errors and one on a bases-loaded walk issued to BrandonRouse - put the game on ice for the Lancers.

Billingsley, Norton and Bud Lanier had two hits each to lead LCC's 10-hit attack. Norton finished with two RBIs, while Burford, Mills and Rouse had the Lancers' other RBIs.

WOSC (52-11) entered the game batting .410, but was held to six hits in 33 at-bats for a .182 average. Perez and Danny Almonte had two hits apiece, while Rodriguez had the Pioneers' lone RBI with his dinger.

"This was a big win," Norton said. "Regardless of how good you are, you still have doubts. The nation's eight best teams are out here. We proved we can come out and play with anyone."

Follow LCC's progress throughout the NJCAA D-2World Series on Bryan's blog at http://bhanks.encblogs.com.