The Barton Community College baseball team opened up their four-game series Thursday versus Pratt Community College sweeping the Beavers 8-5 and 10-3 at Lawson-Biggs Field. The Cougar pitching staff struck out twenty-one Pratt batters while pounding the Beaver pitching staff with twenty-six hits producing five-run innings in each of the contests capturing the twin bill. The victories improve Barton to .500 in the conference season at 11-11 and 24-18 overall while dropping the Beavers to 6-16 and 16-28 on the season. The teams will conclude the series on Friday with a pair of games scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. first pitch.
The Cougars pounded out twelve hits in the opener with each of six players getting two hits. Ryan McClure led the way with both hits coming in extra base fashion, the first capping a five-run fourth inning on a two-run shot to left field.
With each of the first five Cougars in the lineup getting multiple hits, Barton also got production from its No. 9 hold hitter Taylor Langston in a 2-for-2 performance including a fourth inning leadoff triple sparking a two-run inning to tie the contest. Scoring on a Drake Bliss single, the Cougars loaded the bases adding a Michael Sinks single and Corrigan Bartlett hit by pitch before McClure fought off an 0-2 count to draw a walk forcing in the first of the his team high three runs batted in.
Barton broke open the game in the fourth scoring on a wild pitch, an RBI double to centerfield by Bliss, and a Bartlett RBI single before McClure's two-run homerun. The Cougars tacked on an insurance run in the following inning on Cole Henley's line drive double to center scoring Langston.
Surrendering solo home runs to lead off the second and third innings, Garret Rogers had control for most of the night until a hit by pitch kept the fifth inning alive with the next batter delivering a three-run long ball cutting the Barton lead in half. Going 6.1 innings, Rogers struck out seven while walking two improving to 2-3 on the season before giving the ball to Mason Hiser to seal the win with a strike out and line out stranding a Beaver runner to earn his third save of the year.
Trailing 2-0 in the opener, it was the Cougars who jumped on top by two in the night cap getting a Ryan Schippers sac fly and McClure scoring on a wild pitch.
Schippers, who was joined by Bartlett and McClure in the three-hit club accounting for nine of the Cougars fourteen hits, increased the lead to three with a one-out double in the sixth.
Holding the Beavers to five hits for the first six innings, McClure was greeted by a leadoff double down the left field line as the high chopper just evaded the diving Dayton Pomeroy. Striking out the next batter, an RBI single and double would draw Pratt to within one but a perfect relay execution from Bliss to Henley firing to Pomeroy at third would erase a base runner before McClure struck out his second of the inning.
Having a 5-for-7 day at the plate driving in six runs, McClure would also earn his first win of the year behind his ten strikeouts without a walk and scattering of eight hits moving to 1-0 on the season.
Barton would answer Pratt's two runs in the top of the seventh with five of their own in the home half. Getting consecutive walks by Henley and Bliss to begin the inning, Sinks joined the multi-hit club with a double to left increasing the lead back out to two. An infield error later, McClure drove in two of his three runs on a line drive single to left then sped around the base paths as the scorcher got past the Pratt fielder and rolled to the wall.
Normal game two starter Austin Taylor came out of the pen for the final two innings getting a ground out before a solo home run rounded out the Pratt scoring. Taylor settled in despite surrendering a two-out single and walk to strikeout two in the inning followed by another strikeout in the ninth.
Adding insurance runs in the home half of the eighth, the Cougars put across one on a McClure single driving in Sinks while Schippers drove home Bartlett's earlier double with a liner to center field.