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Barton baseball splits with conference champ, eyes upset for upcoming playoffs

Barton baseball splits with conference champ, eyes upset for upcoming playoffs

The Barton Community College baseball team did what only two other teams were able to do this season, earn a series split against West Division conference champion Colby Community College.   Proving that they can play with anyone, the Cougars came out with a lot of emotion for the final day of the season at Lawson-Biggs Field taking Sunday's opener 8-4.  With Colby needing a win to secure an outright title and the first championship in the program's history, the Trojans built momentum through the first five innings before a four-run sixth broke it open going on for an 11-5 win seizing the title.  Barton finishes the regular season in a sixth place 15-17 in the Jayhawk Conference and 29-25 overall while Colby clinched the conference crown at 23-9 and 38-14.

Next up for the region's twelfth seeded Cougars will be a trip to Kansas City on Saturday to begin Region VI first round play against the fifth seeded Blue Devils of Kansas City Kansas Community College.  Finishing third in the East Division at 23-13, the Blue Devils have won two straight entering the playoffs at 37-18 on the season.  First pitch of the best-of-three series slated for 1:00 p.m. at KCK's Baseball Complex with the second nine inning game following twenty minutes after the conclusion of game one.  If necessary, the teams will return to the diamond at 1:00 p.m. Sunday with the winner of the series advancing to the Elite 8 double-elimination tournament held May 13-16 at Wichita's Lawrence Dumont Stadium.

Getting multiple hits from three of the top four batters in the lineup, the crew went to work in the first inning after Colby had grabbed an early one run lead.  Drake Bliss began his 3-for-4 game opening up the Cougar at-bats with a single scoring on a one single by Ryan McClure.

A single and double began the Coly response in the second getting a one out single and an RBI fielder's choice regaining the Trojan lead building a 3-1 advantage.

Barton took an inning to respond getting three consecutive singles capped by Taylor Langston's lone hit of the game driving Cole Henley home from second.  A two-out line drive up the middle by Bliss would tie the score before Michael Sinks connected on a two-out 1-2 pitch driving a double to right field for his second hit of the game giving the Cougars a 5-3 lead.

A catcher's inference would give Colby their first base runner in the top of the fourth with consecutive singles following to load the bases.  With starting hurler Ryan McClure in a serious jam with the heart of the lineup coming to the plate, the sophomore grinded getting an infield pop-up for the first out with a sac fly being the only run producer before ending the threat with a four pitch strikeout.

Colby was back at the attack in the sixth getting a one-ut walk and single as the bench roared in approval of hopes of a title comeback.  Fighting off six 1-2 pitches, Trevor Smeeton appeared to give the Trojans the tying run but the sharp single up the middle was snared by a full-out diving Henley.  On his belly behind the second base bag Henley quickly glove flipped the ball to Sinks as the Cougars rolled up the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

The Cougars rode the wave of emotion from the defensive play of the year putting the game away with three in the home half.  Sinks and Corrigan Bartlett set the table with leadoff singles with McClure tying Sinks for the team high RBI lead in the game driving in his second of the contest on a line drive to right.  Utilizing the small ball opportunity, Dayton Pomeroy laid down a perfect RBI sac bunt with Henley following with his own sac bunt before Ryan Schippers put the final touch on the inning with a sac fly to deep center field.

McClure improved to 2-0 on the season scattering six hits giving way to Mason Hiser for the final two innings locking down the Trojans to one hit.

Cody Brewer got the game two start getting the first two batters before giving up two consecutive singles.  Brewer appeared getting out unscathed but an outfield error kept the inning alive allowing Colby to get at least one first inning run in three of the four games.  

With both teams committing two errors each in the game, the second inning was the Trojans' turn to return the favor as Henley's leadoff double and stolen base would score one-out later on an infield error.

Single runs would come across for the Trojans in the third and fourth inning, but a four run sixth would bring life to the Colby bench smelling their first championship.  

Beginning the inning with a walk then putting a man aboard with a one-out hit by pitch, Brewer exited the mound for Austin Taylor.  Taylor induced a fielder's choice for the second out but a walk and a bases clearing double ballooned the lead quickly to five.  Another single ensued chasing Taylor with Daniel Kohl getting the final out with a fly out to right field.

Making a few base running mistakes in the four-game series, another costly one helped prevent a potential fruitful home half of the inning.  Pomeroy fought off two 1-2 pitches before driving a shot right back up the box getting aboard with one-out.  Continuing his .500 day at the plate, Henley just missed his first collegiate homerun banging a blast off the centerfield wall for his second double of the game.  Unaware of Pomeroy held up at third, Henley locked up the breaks getting caught in a pickle but staying alive long enough for Pomeroy to score.   Schippers followed with a double to center that would have easily scored Henley but the Cougars were left with only one run to show for the effort as a groundout ended the rally.

Colby picked up a single run in the seventh taking the lead to six stringing four one-out consecutive singles.  The damage might have been more but Kohl picked off the first of the singles with a strong move to first with Schippers slapping the tag for the second out.

The Cougars weren't about to go down easily in their final home game of the season as sophomores McClure and Pomeroy led off the inning with a double and single respectively.  Henley put another deep ball to center for a sac fly with Schippers and Langston producing another run but consecutive strikeouts killed the inning leaving Barton four runs behind.

Hoping to recreate some late-inning Cougar magic like they had done a handful of times in the season, Colby had other plans putting up three runs building the lead back out to six.

Barton's rally continued to take a turn for the worse in the home half with two quick outs before McClure drew a walk then stole second to keep the inning alive.   Leading the fifteen hit Cougar attack in the final game at Lawson-Biggs Field with a 3-for-5 performance, Pomeroy appropriately enough ended on a good note driving in the final run with a line drive onto the left field grass.

Brewer took the loss dropping to 1-5 on the season.