Burford's hit keeps LCC unbeaten
Published in Sports on May 26, 2008 1:49 PM
MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- Kent Burford already had three hits and two fantastic defensive plays in Sunday afternoon's NJCAA Division II World Series contest against a five-time national champion.
But it wasn't enough.
The Lenoir Community College second baseman delivered a walk-off double to right center field as the Lancers upended Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College 5-4.
Lenoir, the nation's top-ranked team, opposes Elgin (Ill.) Community College at 7:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday.
Burford's double capped a 4-for-5 night at the plate.
"This is right up there with my best games ever," said Burford, a sophomore. "I've never played for a national championship, but hopefully, we'll be doing that later this week."
Burford's two spectacular plays prevented Grand Rapids from scoring at least two runs. The first occurred after GRCC's B.J. Lauscher hit a screaming liner at Lancer starter Drew Sowers. The ball hit Sowers in the head, ricocheted about 40 feet in the air and Burford snagged it for the second out.
Sowers was taken to an area hospital for a CAT scan, which was negative.
In the sixth inning, Burford robbed Raiders shortstop Chris Vangessel of an RBI single with a leaping grab to end the inning.
Burford, who said he can dunk a basketball, had no doubts he could make the play.
"I go to the gym with (LCC teammate) T.J. Hinson a lot," he said. "He said that all those days we've gone to Mock Gym finally paid off."
Lenoir CC (53-10 overall) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ryan Norton hit a sacrifice fly to score Burford, who singled. Burford reached second on a Ben Billingsley single and stole third. Bud Lanier's groundout RBI in the fourth inning gave the Lancers a 2-0 lead.
Grand Rapids (28-23) tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth after three walks by Sowers. A two-run double by Norton in the bottom of the frame gave LCC a 4-2 lead.
The Raiders knotted the score at 4-4 on a two-run homer by outfielder Jeremy Trinkle in the eighth inning.
LCC catcher Taylor Honeycutt led off the ninth by being hit by a pitch and was replaced by pinch-runner Scott Driggers, who went to second on a Hunter Chase sacrifice. Burford sent the game-winning double to right center field and the Lancers celebrated.
Burford hit a change-up on a 1-2 pitch for the game winner.
"I was sitting off-speed, because I didn't think he could get his fastball past me," said Burford. "I knew I had hit it good, but I was just hoping the outfielder wouldn't get it. He made a great attempt, but when I saw it bounce, I was excited."
BRYAN C. HANKS
Kinston Free Press
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