JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYNE STAFF
LUBBOCK — Two former Marble Falls High School baseball players helped McLennan College return to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series for the first time since 1987.
They are pitcher Cole Ridgely and reserve Stacy Heinatz, both freshmen.
Ridgely has been used as the closer and made two appearances at the Region IV tournament May 8-12 and didn’t give up a run or a hit.
The Highlanders (37-18 overall, 19-13 in conference) defeated Howard 6-3; New Mexico Junior College 5-3 and 10-9; and Odessa College 10-7 and 10-2 after losing to OC 13-0 in five innings in their second game of the tournament.
Ridgely threw a total of four scoreless innings. But his performance in the one-run win against NMJC was almost flawless.
MCC built an 8-0 advantage in the first inning and took a 10-1 lead after two innings. However, NMJC scored four runs in the third, two in the fifth and two in the sixth before the former Mustang entered the contest.
By the time he finished his outing, he gave up a walk and had one strikeout. The victory advanced the Highlanders to the championship against OC.
Ridgely’s other appearance was in the first game against NMJC, during which he walked one batter and struck out two.
“There’s nothing like closing out a game,” he said. “All the pressure’s on you. It’s an amazing feeling. You have to be composed, handle your emotions and don’t fold under the pressure.”
OC stayed in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament, so the Highlanders had to beat the Wranglers twice to advance to the World Series.
Heinz has made 18 appearances during the season but didn’t play at the regional tournament. He has five hits, including a double and a triple, and six walks and scored eight runs.
Ridgely (1-0-1) has played in 13 total games and has allowed 14 earned runs with 10 walks and 15 strikeouts.
The pitcher said he believes the ending of the 2014 season played a role this year. MCC needed to beat Midland College once more to earn the World Series berth. However, MC won the final two games, 5-4 and 11-6, to win the regional tournament.
“That’s what motivated a bunch of our guys, that it can be done,” Ridgely said.
The World Series is in Grand Junction, Colorado, on May 23-30. MCC won the World Series in 1983.
“We don’t give up, and we’re all in it till the end,” Ridgely said. “We’re all close. It’s a good team to be on. I’m excited to head to the World Series.”