The Barton Community College baseball team trailed in the final innings of both games Saturday at Lawson-Biggs Field rallying for a doubleheader sweep over Butler Community College. The Cougars took game one 4-3 on a walk-off double then in the nightcap needed another rally in the ninth inning before stealing the game 6-5 in eleven innings. In capturing its sixth come-from-behind win of the season, the unsung heroes amongst the clutch offensive execution was the Barton bullpen pitching of Taylor Langston and Mason Hiser closing out a combined 5.2 innings, scattering three hits, and striking out seven batters giving the offense a chance. The victory is the twelfth straight for the Cougars improving to 6-0 in conference play and 14-5 overall while Butler drops its conference opening day slipping to 10-9 on the season. The teams will wrap up the four game series with a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader on Sunday.
A Ryan McClure single followed by a Corrigan Bartlett double and Cole Henley walk loaded the bases to begin the second in the opener. Butler starter Corbin Osborne fired back getting the next two Cougars then dug Alan Clark a two strike hole. Clark waited patiently on two pitches before sending the 2-2 pitch to centerfield giving Barton the early 2-0 lead.
Butler would counter with one in the third as a hit-by-pitch would score one out later on a two-out double down the third base line.
With both starting pitchers controlling the bats for most of the game, the Grizzlies finally got to Barton starter Garret Rogers in the fifth getting consecutive one-out singles. Rogers then induced a harmless fly ball to the outfield but Cory Slater turned on one in the next at-bat with a ground ball screamer thru the wickets of third baseman Dayton Pomeroy allowing Butler to take a 3-2 lead.
Trailing by one into the seventh, Trey Pittman drew a full-count one-out walk to begin the rally. Hightower followed with a line drive double down the third base line as pinch runner Derek Johnson sped around the bases crossing the plate to chase Osborne from the game. Clark stepped to the plate and wore reliever Drake Harper's third pitch between the numbers bringing Drake Bliss to the plate. Up in the count 3-0 and watching the next for a strike, Bliss dialed in on Harper driving a deep fly one-hopping the centerfield fence setting off Cougar jubilation with the walk-off double.
Taylor Langston pitched the final two innings earning the win improving to 3-0 on the season striking out three while only giving up one hit.
Game two began as anything but a pitcher's duel combining for five runs in the first inning. The Grizzlies did their damage with two outs in the top half drawing a walk, single, and then a triple to centerfield for the early two run lead.
Consecutive Bliss and Michael Sinks walks began the home half as McClure drove the first Cougar run on the board with a single to right field while Bartlett followed with an RBI single to center to tie it up. Following a Henley walk, Pittman gave Barton the go-ahead run grounding out to third.
Butler again used a two-out rally in the subsequent inning driving home a leadoff walk with a two-out single. The Grizzlies would take the lead in the third as Slater loved the second pitch he saw from Austin Taylor leading off the inning with a mammoth blast to dead center field.
The Cougars got the break they needed in the home half of the seventh as Hightower reached on a one-out infield error. A strikeout and two wild pitches later, Hightower crossed the dish with the tying run as Bliss came through again with the full-count single.
A one-out double and single put runners on the corners in the following inning prompting Head Coach Brent Biggs to dig into the bullpen bring out his fourth pitcher of the game. Mason Hiser was greeted with the go-ahead RBI single but then induced a fielder's choice and strike out looking to end any more damage.
After stranding a Pomeroy leadoff single in the home half, Hiser sent down the Grizzlies in order in the ninth with two strikeouts and a groundout giving the Cougars a chance.
That chance diminished a little as Butler reliever Marcus Washburn struck out Pittman but a full-count single by Hightower gave Barton new hope. Clark made the hope a reality one batter later driving the second pitch down the third base line as the speedy pinch runner Johnson circled the bases for the game tying run. The comeback seemed a certain thing with Clark at second with one out, but Washburn induced consecutive come backers to the mound to end the threat.
Hiser pitched around a leadoff single and one-out walk in the tenth getting a strikeout and fly ball then sent the Grizzlies down in order in the eleventh.
Butler reliever Travis Hennessy worked out of a Pomeroy leadoff walk in the tenth but Ben Ramberg wouldn't be as fortunate taking the mound for the eleventh.
Pittman began the fateful inning with a walk handling the baton to Matthew Baca to pinch run. A perfectly executed sac bunt by Colton Zink moved Baca to second then with Clark at the plate with a 2-2 count, a wild pitch skipped past catcher Forge't. With Baca hustling into third, Forge't's pick-off throw sailed to the foul side of the bag past third basemen Bryant Klusener into left field allowing Baca to complete the Cougar come-from-behind win for the sixth time this season.
Hiser earned the win as the Augusta freshman pitched the final 3.2 innings scattering two hits and striking out four improving to 2-1 on the season.