By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Jefferson College rolled into the championship game of the NJCAA Region 16 Tournament by defeating Crowder College 20-1 in the winners’ bracket final Friday at Wendell Redden Stadium in the Joplin Athletic Complex.
Crowder, 43-16, will play St. Louis Community College at 1 p.m. today in the losers’ bracket final. The winner will face Jefferson at 4 p.m.
Jefferson starter Dalton Friend allowed four hits and one run in six innings. He walked four and struck out eight.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” said Friend, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound left-hander. “I finally got my curveball in the last couple of innings.
“My fastball control wasn’t good, but I got out of a couple of jams and they made good defensive plays behind me.”
Crowder first baseman Cody Althouse was 4-for-4, including a seventh-inning double off reliever Steven Diel. The other offensive highlight for the Roughriders was second baseman Drew Crain’s solo home run to left in the fourth inning.
“That’s one of the best left-handers I’ve seen and I’ve been coaching for 12 years,” said Crowder head coach Travis Lallemand. “He could pitch on Friday night for any Division I program in the country.”
The Vikings, who scored in every inning, took a 7-0 lead with a four-run third inning that included consecutive hits by Danny Murphy, Kyle Leslie, Ian Foege and Sage Boehner.
Lallemand then removed starting pitcher Chris Caudle, who allowed six hits and seven runs — four earned — in 2 1/3 innings. Relievers Trey Watson and Andrew Schwaab finished up for Crowder.
Murphy, the designated hitter, batted fifth and was 5-for-5 with a double, five RBIs and two runs scored.
“It’s awesome to come to regionals and see the ball well and have a solid win,” said Murphy, a redshirt freshman from Mehlville High School in St. Louis whose career began at the University of Missouri.
He said he made the transition from second base to the outfield this season. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play, quite honestly,” he said.
Foege, the Vikings’ catcher, was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and scored three runs. Brett Wiley was 3-for-5 and scored three runs, and lyle Leslie was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs.
“We did a good job of getting on base,” said Vikings head coach Sam Carel. “They’ve had good approaches all year long. It has been a point of emphasis all year. All tournament long, we’ve done a good job with the middle of our lineup.”