The Ellsworth Community College baseball team opened their season at Paris Junior College in Texas on Saturday, Jan. 26 and Sunday, Jan. 27 going 2-1 for the weekend. Along with the team's success, Austin Wagner (Fond Du Lac, WI) and Reed Collins (Farmington, MN) received individual honors for their efforts.
The Panthers opened up with a 3-1 victory over Paris with a battle between pitchers. Wagner went four innings for ECC, allowing one run on three hits and striking out five and walking one. Victor Lara (Littleton, CO) went 2-3 at the plate. ECC didn't commit a single error on the field.
In the second game of the double-header, ECC fell 13-6 even though they had a strong batting performance. Defense struggled to contain the Paris offense giving up 13 runs. Ellsworth put up four runs late in the game in the sixth inning thanks to a single by Luis Alvarado (Santo Domingo, DR) and a home run by Michael Wallace (Minneapolis, MN). Alvarado went 2-for-4 at the plate to lead Ellsworth in hits.
The final game of the series, ECC snagged the lead late and defeated Paris 21-15. The game was tied at 14 with Ellsworth batting in the top of the 8th when Lara was struck by a pitch, driving in a run.
Luis Quinones (Luiza, PR) led ECC to victory with a grand slam in the second, driving in four runs. He went 2-for-4 at the plate. ECC took an early lead in the second inning with Reed Collins (Farmington, MN) singled and drove in a run. Ellsworth had ten runs in the second inning. Big bats from Collins, Brodie Smith (Red Wing, MN), Quinones, and Alvarado all sent runners across the plate with RBIS in the inning.
ECC evened things up at 14 in the top of the seventh inning with Marino Pugnetti (Queen Creek, AZ) hitting a single. Alex Schneider pitched ECC to victory. He allowed six hits and three runs over four innings, striking out one and walking one. Jacob Schellpfeffer (Maryville, WI) and Zach Carlsen (Sycamore, IL) entered the game out of the bullpen and helped to close out the game in relief. Carlsen recorded the last three outs to earn the save.
ECC had four home runs on the day. Alvarado and Collins going deep in the second inning, Quinones clearing the bases in the second and Pugnetti in the ninth. ECC had 13 hits on the day. Pugnetti, Collins, Lara and Quinones each had multiple hits for the Panthers.
For their efforts in the opening weekend, Wagner and Rollins received Iowa Community College (ICCAC) Athlete of the week honors. Wagner also received National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) DII Player of the Week honors.