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Homer in 10th sends CSN to wild opening win at NJCAA World Series

College of Southern Nevada baseball coach Nick Garritano said he thought the Coyotes would need to be nearly flawless against Northwest Florida State College to have any chance of winning Saturday.

That’s not quite how things went, but Tyman Long’s 10th-inning home run allowed the Coyotes to overcome some costly mistakes and pull off a wild 7-6 victory in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series at Grand Junction, Colorado.

“I just went up there and hoped (relief pitcher Brock Tapper) would throw me a mistake,” Long said. “And he did. I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it.”

The ninth-seeded Coyotes (52-10) will play the winner of Saturday’s late game between No. 3 Iowa Western and No. 8 Florence-Darlington in a winners’ bracket game at 8 a.m. Monday.

CSN got off on the wrong foot with three disastrous errors in the first inning before blowing a lead in the ninth, but six relief pitchers combined to keep the score within striking distance.

“That’s how we’ve won 52 games,” Garritano said. “These guys are relentless, and they never panic.”

Brady Ballinger went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead CSN, including a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the top of the first inning to give his team a 2-0 lead. But the Coyotes’ two throwing errors and one fielding error in the bottom of the inning allowed No. 2 Northwest Florida (36-14) to tie the game at 2-2 on just one hit.

After the Raiders added a run in the third, CNN trailed until the seventh, when Ballinger had a key RBI single off Tapper that set the tone for a three-run frame to give CSN a 6-4 lead.

But Northwest Florida scored a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-5 and tied it in the ninth when Tyler Lejeun’s single was mishandled in the outfield to help bring home a run.

“There were a lot of nerves out there,” Garritano said. “But we weathered the storm. It was nice to see the team settle in.”

That set up Long’s two-out heroics in the 10th.

“It was incredible,” Garritano said. “When he hit it, we knew the park wasn’t going to hold that.”

Reliever Brian Uribe earned the victory for CSN, and Naun Haro got the save.

Review-Journal reporter Jeff Wollard can be reached at jwollard@reviewjournal.com.

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